40,000 people are expected to line the streets of downtown Albany Saturday night for a Christmas tradition. The 22nd annual Celebration of Lights Parade will officially kick off of the holiday season.
Pine Avenue will be packed full of people, street vendors, bands, and of course Christmas lights. This year's theme is "An Old Fashion Christmas" and Water Gas and Light has made a float in honor of providing utilities for 100 years.
Water Gas and Light employees spent the day decorating their float and putting the final touches on Santa's Sleigh. The Celebration of Lights is the region's largest Christmas parade drawing in tens of thousands of people and of course boosting the area's economy.
"I think it is something that Albanians look forward to and we just want to encourage people to come back downtown, come and see the beautiful lights, and the displays, our tree is absolutely beautiful," said WG&L Assistant General Manager Lori Farkas.
There are almost 100 entries this year including school bands, cars, floats and large balloons. "The holidays bring everyone closer together, and it is kind of good that they are having activities for people to enjoy during the holidays," said Albany Resident Jasmyne Martin.
The parade starts at 6:00 Saturday night through downtown, but there will be entertainment for the gathering crowds beginning at five on both Pine Street and Broad Avenue.
"From 5PM until 5:45PM, you will see over 22 different groups that will be performing in the street, half on pine, and half on broad in the 200 block," Farkas said.
Farkas says she hopes events like this bring the community together. "If you are in NYC somewhere in the distant future, and you hear somebody is from Albany Georgia, my hope and desire is that you will say, 'Do you remember going to those parades when we were little,' it is a sense of family and that is what we so desperately need in the world right now, but especially in our community," Farkas said.
A community that will come together tomorrow to celebrate the holidays. Of course if you can't make it out to the parade, you can see it right here on WALB.
The event will assemble on Pine Avenue between Monroe Street and Harding Street and will proceed east to Washington Street where it will make a right turn and proceed south one block and make another turn onto Broad Avenue.
It will then continue west on Broad Avenue to its termination point at Madison Street. Through traffic on north and south Jefferson Street (SR 91) will be temporally detoured at Flint Avenue and Oglethorpe Boulevard.
In addition, Davis Street, Madison Street, Monroe Street, Jackson Street and Washington Street will be blocked to through traffic during the event.
Our very own Karla Heath Sands will host the parade live from six to eight PM. Organizers are already planning next year's parade. Next's theme will be the Twelve Days of Christmas.