- Avery Newmark For the AJC
It's time to dig up your jingle bells and festive decor− the holidays are right around the corner!
Along with merry times and rosy cheeks, parades arrive to keep you entertained.
There are floats and boats dripping with shimmering lights, balloonicles (balloons on bicycles) and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Here are eight of the most dazzling and spirited holiday parades across America:
Opening Dec. 1
Since its opening in 1971, children (and adults) gravitate towards Disney World, the beloved epicenter of childhood fantasy. Some choose to visit Mickey and friends during the summer months, but beginning in November things start to get a lot more festive around the parks. The Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, part of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, takes place in the Magic Kingdom park on Main Street. Spectators can expect to see most of their favorite Disney characters, including Mickey, Olaf and even Santa Claus.
Get into the holiday spirit and plan to attend not only one of the largest Christmas parades in the Southeast but one that also benefits a great cause. Since 1981, the Children's Christmas Parade transforms the city of Atlanta into a magnificent winter wonderland with marching bands, dancers and festive balloons. And if you want to take your holiday spirit even further, breakfast with Santa is available before the parade starts.
In its 27th year, the Reston Holiday Parade is a sight to see. It features Macy's-style balloons, musicians, dancers and antique cars marching along the half-mile parade route on Market Street. Besides the parade, the community of Reston offers a hoopla of other holiday festivities, including photo ops with Santa, a Christmas tree lighting and the Gingerbread Man Mile.
This nautical tradition in Portland has been going full steam for over 60 years. The parade features 60 ships of all shapes and sizes decorated with holiday sparkling lights. Each night over a three-week period the boats tour different areas, providing holiday cheer to land-side onlookers. Spectators can see the ships close up, take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus and even meet the boat captains.
Christmas in California never looked brighter than at the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade. Feast your eyes on dazzling lights and tractors old and new as they parade through the ever-growing Napa Valley event. This ultimate small-town holiday parade is a unique way to take in the agricultural heritage while celebrating the Christmas season.
Waking up bright and early on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Macy's Parade has been a long-standing tradition. New York City goes all out: the parade features giant floating balloons of all the best cartoons characters, along with balloonicles, floats, marching bands, clowns, famous performers and local performance groups from around the country.
Celebrate Christmas in style with the city of Annapolis as holiday spirited boats take over the harbor. Families and friends have gathered for the past 35 years on the second Saturday in December to cheer on and revel from their favorite viewing spots. Some past favorites have included Star Wars-themed vessels and giant lit-up martini glasses.
New Year’s Day
The Christmas parades are over, Thanksgiving is left in the dust and the shiny NYC ball has dropped -- what is there to do now? Well, celebrate the New Year of course. New Year's Day is about celebrating, and there's no better place to do so than Philadelphia's Mummers Parade. The nearly 120-year-old tradition features "Mummers" dressed in lavish, colorful costumes as they strut down one of the city's main streets. Mummery has been a tradition for many Philadelphia-area families for generations, consisting of men and women of all ages who belong to more than 40 organized clubs. The parade extravaganza is tightly choreographed and full of noisy camaraderie, a fierce, fun way to ring in the New Year.