It may only be mid-November, but it will look and sound a lot like Christmas downtown Saturday with thousands of onlookers expected to turn out for the 2012 WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade.
Route: The 68th annual parade starts at Hillsborough and St. Marys streets and heads east to the State Capitol. It briefly goes around the Capitol on Salisbury and Morgan streets before heading down Fayetteville Street to Lenoir Street. Police will be closing the main route starting at 8 a.m.
Time: The procession begins at 9:40 a.m. and runs until noon.
TV broadcast: 10 a.m. to noon on WRAL and UNC-TV.
Grand marshal: Nashville recording artist Emily Minor. The North Carolina native performed on Season 7 of American Idol in 2008 before launching her country music career.
Other participants: Marching bands from Triangle high schools and floats from area clubs and businesses. And, of course, Santa Claus.
Low-flying objects: Due to the national helium shortage, only one high-flying helium-filled balloon will be at the parade. The other balloons will be inflated with cold air.
The parades distinction: Its the largest Christmas parade between Atlanta and Washington with 60,000 people expected to watch in person.
For more information: Go to the Greater Raleigh Merchants Associations website at http://grma.org.