RALEIGH — You can set your calendar by it: If it’s the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Raleigh Christmas Parade will come rolling through the streets of downtown.
Never mind the temperature or the leaves still on the trees, the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association wants to get you in a holiday mood – particularly a holiday-shopping mood.
Route: It’s the same as last year, starting at Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets, down Hillsborough and around the Capitol, then down Fayetteville Street to Lenoir Street.
Time: The parade starts at 9:40 a.m. and should end about noon. Streets will begin closing at 8 a.m.
TV broadcast: 10 a.m. to noon on WRAL and UNC-TV.
Grand marshal: Justin LeBlanc, the “Project Runway” finalist from Raleigh. He’s even designing the float he’ll be riding on.
What else will be there: 54 floats, 20 bands and one cold-air balloon that is generator-powered. Because of the national helium shortage, there are no hot-air balloons, said Jennifer Martin, executive director of the merchants association. The cold-air balloon is a beaver playing a guitar – which fits in nicely with Raleigh’s role hosting the World of Bluegrass festivities in coming years, Martin said.
What won’t be there: A controversial “Bob & the Showgram” entry. Last year, the G105 morning radio show came under fire from many – including Mayor Nancy McFarlane – by suspending a man described as “Tyrone the Black Christmas Fairy” from a harness on the back of a tow truck. This year, G105 will spotlight “Bob’s Buddies,” radio host Bob Dumas’ charity for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. “That is our agreement with them – that they be promoting the charity and not the show,” Martin said.
The weather: Though showers are likely later Saturday, Martin said the parade is expected to go off as scheduled with no delays.
The distinction: Yep, this is still the biggest Christmas parade between Washington and Atlanta, according to Martin.
Ogburn: 919-829-8987; Twitter: @thadogburn