With a thirty-foot wizard floating through the chilly night sky and local marching bands playing peppy holiday tunes, downtown Denver will be aglow this weekend for the Xcel Energy Parade of Lights. "It's a special night for kids of all ages, but it's definitely magical for the younger ones to come see the beautiful horse-drawn carriages, spectacular floats and huge balloons," says Susan Rogers Kark, vice president of the Downtown Denver Partnership and the parade's director. "And, of course, the parade ends with Santa riding high atop an ice sleigh surrounded by playing penguins."
In between, tin men, nutcrackers and elves will dance alongside floats depicting gingerbread houses, carousels and giant snow globes. The two-mile route will be ablaze with lights, lights and more lights for the parade's 28th trek through downtown. "It has become a holiday tradition for a lot of families," says Kark. "People who came to the parade 25 years ago are now bringing their children."
The jolliness begins at the Denver City and County Building and travels down 17th Street before turning around at Arapahoe Street and coming back up 15th (where the crowds are much smaller). General viewing is free; prime grandstand seats in front of the City and County Building are available by reservation ($14 for adults, $10 for kids ages three to twelve, free for kids under three). There are two chances to see the parade: at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 6, and at 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 7; for information, log on to www.denverparadeoflights.com or call 303-478-7878.
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And don't forget to bundle up the little ones: Depending on how frisky the reindeer are, the parade is scheduled to last about an hour.