Pull out your jingle bells and your striped tights; it’s time to get into the holiday spirit with the annual Christmas parades throughout Georgia. I’m a huge fan of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade. In fact, we attend every year, even though my little ones are now teens. In addition to the floats, helium balloons, and marching bands, I like to see the stormtroopers of the 501st Legion with their Santa hats and snowman noses. The Christmas parade signals the start of the holiday season for me, and it’s a great inexpensive family tradition. It seems no matter where you travel in Georgia, you’re bound to find a Christmas parade to welcome in the holiday season. Here are several from around the state.
Boat Parade of Lights (Nov. 28 in the evening): Savannah sure knows how to do a parade. The Westin sponsors this event, which is located on the waterfront in front of the hotel. It includes 35 lighted boats, accompanied by live music performances, tree lighting ceremony, and fireworks extravaganza. Of course, the best seat in the house is at the Westin, where you’ll also find a Gingerbread Village competition.
Rome Christmas Parade (Dec. 1 in the evening): This is one of Northwest Georgia’s oldest and largest Christmas parades. It’s organized by a volunteer committee and has more than 100 entries each year.
Cedartown Christmas Parade (Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.): The theme for this year’s event is “Christmas Lights on Parade.” Floats are awarded cash prizes in three categories, so you know they’ll be good.
Dublin Christmas Parade (Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.): In addition to floats and bands, young spectators get excited about the handfuls of candy and Christmas cheer tossed their way during this event.
Jefferson Christmas Parade (Dec. 5 at 3 p.m.): Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in a horse-drawn carriage during this parade.
City of Rockmart Christmas Parade (Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.): This parade is held on a Friday night and has more than 5,000 spectators. The theme for 2015 is “Memories of Christmas.”
Downtown Holiday Open House in Valdosta (Dec. 5 at 5 p.m.): Come early in the day for the Holiday Open House and stay for the parade at 5 p.m. Floats are judged on appearance, special effects, creativity, workmanship and use of the theme, which is “A Christmas Story.” First prize gets a leg lamp. (just kidding)
Savannah Lighted Christmas Parade (Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m.): Although Savannah is best known for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Lighted Christmas Parade looks pretty awesome, too. This parade travels from River Street through town to City Market.
North Georgia Mountain Christmas Parade (Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.): It’s the 26th year for this mountain parade. Expect lots of traditional floats and maybe a stormtrooper or two.
City of McDonough Christmas Parade (Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.): The City of McDonough celebrates Christmas with a parade, as well as a tree lighting ceremony and a 5K Jingle Jog. Of course, there is also a visit from St. Nick, too.
Golden Isles Christmas Boat Parade of Lights (Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.): Sponsored by the Golden Isles sailing club, the Christmas Boat Parade of Lights features boats of all sizes decked out with brilliant holiday lights and decorations.
Festival of Lights Christmas Parade in Douglas (Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.): Expect to see lots of Santa’s home in this parade. The theme for 2015 is “Santa’s Workshop.”
City of Royston Christmas Parade (Dec. 13 at 3 p.m.): Kick off the season with floats, music and Santa.
City of Hartwell Christmas Parade (Dec. 14 at 3:30 p.m.): Celebrate the “Magic” of the season during Hartwell’s annual parade.
Find more parades on exploregeorgia.org/events.