Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Raleigh this morning for the annual Christmas parade, the official start of the holiday season in the capital city.
The 2 1/2-hour parade followed a 1.4-mile route up Hillsborough Street, past the State Capitol and down Fayetteville Street.
It included horses, dogs, clowns, motorcycles, tap dancers, numerous floats and several marching bands, led by the Broughton High School band that has been invited to march in the Rose Bowl Parade in 2012.
Crowds, several people deep in many places, enjoyed cloudless skies and seasonably cool temperatures in the 50s.
The parade's organizer, the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association, touts it as the biggest Christmas parade between Atlanta and Washington. It is always held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.