For the first time since about 1975, the Raleigh Christmas Parade will march down Fayetteville Street. The event is presented by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association.
TIME: The parade runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon today. Organizers say to arrive early.
HOT SPOTS FOR VIEWING: Anywhere along Fayetteville Street. The hilly area around the state Capitol grounds and the bridge along Hillsborough Street near West Street also tend to be crowd favorites.
WHAT YOU'LL SEE: 25 marching bands, 40 floats and miscellaneous other appearances from clowns to jump rope teams. For the first time in about 20 years, the parade will also incorporate helium balloons, similar to but smaller than the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade variety -- a Lady Penguin, Christmas Ornament and Smiley Star.
PARKING: Public parking will be available (see map). Other lots may be open; read the signs.
WHAT TO BRING: Spectators may bring lawn chairs; organizers ask viewers to let kids sit up front. Tents will sell water, coffee, hot chocolate and other refreshments. Downtown businesses and restaurants have also been encouraged to open.
BUS DETOURS: The parade will block off the Salisbury entrance to the Moore Square Station and east-west movements downtown along Hillsborough and Edenton streets from about 8 a.m. to noon today. For info on detours, go to "News" on www.raleighnc.gov or try calling the Capital Area Transit information line 828-7228.
AFTER THE PARADE: Stick around for WinterFest 2006 in Moore Square from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For kids, there will be pony rides, crafts, a climbing wall and Santa Claus. For all ages, the festival will include performances of Christmas tunes by local bands, a farmer's market, wagon rides and food and beverages.
ON TV: Can't make it down? You can still catch the parade live on WRAL at 9:30 a.m today. The parade will be rebroadcast on WRAL at 1 p.m. Dec. 9, noon Dec. 24 and 4:30 a.m. Dec. 25.