There is no better way to kick off the holiday season than with thousands of your closest friends in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, November 17.
Having attended the parade the last several years, here are a few helpful hints I've picked up that will surely make your Christmas parade experience one to remember. Follow these "P"s for your perfect parade plan.
(Can't make it out on the 17th? No worries, you can watch the parade live on ABC11 and ABC11.com November 17 from 10 a.m. to noon.)
SEE OTHER RALEIGH CHRISTMAS PARADE STORIES HERE
CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON STREET CLOSURES
Pack some canned food and your letters to Santa
It's almost time for the ABC11 Together Food Drive and you can bring your cans to the ABC11/LeithCars.com Raleigh Christmas Parade presented by Shop Local Raleigh. More information here.
ABC11 and the United States Postal Service will be at the ABC11/LeithCars.com Raleigh Christmas Parade presented by Shop Local Raleigh to help with the collection.
And make sure your letter to Santa contains a return address; the USPS will also be selling holiday stamps at the parade.
Pile Out and Patience
The early bird gets the best view...or something like that.
You may be asking: "But where do we sit?" In my experience, all areas of the parade have good viewing! With over a mile of the parade route to choose from, you can't go wrong. Check out the parade route here. Personally, I love the ambiance of Fayetteville St. Others like the open air and view of the Capital on Hillsborough Street.
With parking decks, street parking and more all over town, you won't be disappointed. There's a lot of parking available. If you're not familiar with downtown Raleigh, check out this map that shows you where all the parking garages are. It's like a gateway to the north pole! Not really, but just as magical.
You're sitting there, sipping your warm coffee, waiting for the parade to start. Then Junior cries "I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!" Where do you go? Your first option is a porta-potty. They will be placed everywhere along the parade route. If you're like me though, you probably want to avoid a porta-potty and go back to that coffee shop. Hey, it's a clean, grounded restroom, and all you have to do is buy another cup of coffee...or that delicious looking pastry. You're getting a fantastic breakfast, a clean restroom, and supporting local businesses. It's a win-win!
The parade will last about two and a half hours. Plenty of time to enjoy your second cup of coffee (or third, let's be honest) dance with the marching band, wave to Santa, and see all the beautifully decorated floats. Trust me. In 2.5 hours, you'll be singing "Merry Christmas Baby" at the top of your lungs, embarrassing your kids, and enjoying your newly-found Christmas spirit.
Provisions (or Post-Parade)
Don't forget! There are plenty of activities for the whole family after the parade is over. Lots of local shops will be open. Pick up some special treats for Fido at Unleashed! Local restaurants like Lilly's Pizza will be open for a nice, warm meal. The NC Museum of History will have a special event too!
So why should you get up ridiculously early, sit out in the cold for hours, kids in tow, one week before Thanksgiving? Sure. It's difficult to get in the Christmas spirit before you see "It's a Wonderful Life" and devour that tender Thanksgiving turkey.
But this parade has been a part of downtown Raleigh's history for more than 70 years! It's the largest Christmas parade between Washington DC and Atlanta. And this parade supports and promotes locally-owned, independent businesses of Raleigh. It's about making your hard-earned money go further, giving to our local economy, and helping preserve the unique character of Raleigh. Now that's some serious Christmas spirit.
The Raleigh Christmas Parade is brought to you by LeithCars.com.
And is sponsored in part by WakeMed.