RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Retired Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward will be the Grand Marshal for the 79th Annual ABC11 Raleigh Christmas Parade presented by Shop Local Raleigh.
The parade's Grand Marshal is an annual honor bestowed upon an individual or group that has made a significant impact on the community.
"Cam Ward has been selected as this year's Grand Marshal for his contributions to Raleigh and the state of North Carolina, his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to community," Executive Director Shop Local Raleigh Jennifer Martin said.
The Grand Marshal rides in the parade and participates in other ceremonial events during the festivities.
The Raleigh Christmas Parade is the largest holiday parade between Atlanta and Washington D.C. An estimated 65,000 people will line the streets in downtown Raleigh, and more than 250,000 will watch it from their homes on ABC11.
This year's parade is on Saturday, November 18 and will begin at 9:30 a.m. You an watch it live on ABC11 or the ABC11 app.
The 2023 parade nearly got canceled before it could begin, with the City of Raleigh making a surprising announcement Sept. 14 that it would not grant the parade a permit. City leaders cited concern over the tragedy that killed 11-year-old Hailey Brooks during the 2022 parade as reasoning behind denying the permit.
But then, less than 24-hours later, the city changed course, deciding to allow the parade to continue with one significant restriction: motorized floats and vehicles would not be allowed.
Shop Local Raleigh is pushing forward with plans for the revamped parade. It'll be the second time in three years that the parade has seen significant procedural changes -- the other time was in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic made it illegal for large gatherings, so the parade had to happen virtually.
This year, Shop Local Raleigh touts that the parade will feature 115 entries, including energizing bands, super-sized balloons, marchers, youth performers, community groups and more. Despite the changes, parade organizers are sure the event will live up to the high standards of quality everybody has come to expect from the Raleigh Christmas Parade.