Christmas parades to spread joy around metro area

Everybody loves a parade, and who doesn’t like the holidays?

Pair the two up, and you have smiles from Kennesaw to College Park. It’s the Christmas parade season, and while each parade and holiday celebration usually follows the same formula (bands, floats, appearance by Santa and Christmas tree lighting), each city or town has its own traditions thrown in to give locals magical memories to last throughout the holiday season.

The biggest attention-grabber — the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade — will be held Dec. 7. The huge Atlanta parade featuring floats, giant helium-filled balloon characters and marching bands begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be shown on WSB-TV. It will travel through Midtown on Peachtree Street starting at 16th Street and ending at Fifth Street.

While most small-town parades can’t rival the expected 500,000 TV viewers and many spectators for that Atlanta event, smaller municipalities will exhibit the same big holiday spirit.

Come out and join in the fun at any of these local parades, Santa arrivals and holiday celebrations around the metro area.

Related: Many metro Atlanta communities are lighting their holiday trees the weekend of Dec. 5-8. Get the details

City of Douglasville Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

The city of Douglasville puts on one of the largest Christmas parades and tree lighting ceremonies in the area. The night kicks off with a parade and concert that leads right into the Christmas tree lighting in downtown Douglasville.

Of course, there will be a special appearance by Santa, who will visit and take pictures with children.

The Douglasville celebration attracts holiday revelers from neighboring counties like Paulding and Carroll, so get there early.

6:30-9 p.m. Dec. 6. Downtown Douglasville and O’Neal Plaza. www.visitdouglasville.com.

Kennesaw’s “A Day With Santa”

The city of Kennesaw doesn’t just put on a parade to launch its holiday season, it puts on an entire afternoon of fun activities for the entire family.

“The afternoon begins with a parade containing 60 entries that are all community-oriented,” explained David Pies, the city of Kennesaw’s Recreation Division manager. “We will have local marching bands, equestrian entries, floats, and live reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh.”

Immediately following the parade, spectators can cross the railroad tracks and head to the Depot, where they will be greeted by stage entertainment, a food and holiday vendor market and Santa. So bring your cameras. This year, the popular snow tubing trail featuring real snow will be free, thanks to Children’s Healthcare.

“We have a number of groups that have participated in the event for a number of years, including local PTA groups. It’s getting bigger and better every year and has become an annual tradition since it’s not commercially focused,” Pies said.

12-6 p.m. Dec. 7, Main Street. www.adaywithsanta.com.

Newnan’s Annual Christmas Parade

Newnan has been putting on its Christmas extravaganza for years, but please note this year, the parade route has changed. The parade will start on Greenville Street and go into downtown. It then takes a left onto North Court Square, onto LaGrange Street, and ends at Newnan High School.

The theme this year is “A Winter Wonderland,” so bundle up and come out and enjoy floats, marching groups and all the decorated vehicles.

This year, the grand marshals will be members of the Newnan police and fire departments accompanied by local public safety supporter Norma Haynes.

3 p.m. Dec. 8. Downtown Newnan, ending at Newnan High School. www.cityofnewnan.org.

Stone Mountain Park’s Crossroads Christmas Parade

If you miss your hometown parade, you can catch one at Stone Mountain Park, which transforms into a Christmas village with a parade on weekend nights and days when kids are off from school. Also check out the holiday musical performances and a meet and greet with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

While Stone Mountain is a year-round attraction, the holiday season offers a unique chance for kids to interact with the park’s characters.

“The event is about magical moments,” said Jeanine Jones, public relations manager for Stone Mountain Park. “This time (of the year), every single character from every single show will come out for a meet and greet.”

On days when there is a parade, it starts at 6 p.m. This Disney-like production includes lighted floats, new characters in Rudolph and Bumble, ending with fireworks that light the sky 15 minutes before the park closes.

Adult $28 (plus tax) and child (ages 3-11) $22 (plus tax). Through New Year’s Day. www.stonemountainpark.com.

38th Annual College Park Christmas Parade

Starting at Tri-Cities Plaza in East Point, the annual College Park Christmas Parade will wind on to Yale Avenue in College Park.

If you are looking for a laid-back Christmas celebration, come to College Park on Dec. 14, said Kay Marlowe, city of College Park assistant to the director of recreation.

“There will be a bunch of surprises,” Marlowe said. “Stan Jones, who has been the head of College Park youth baseball for 30 years, will be the grand marshal.”

Marlowe says parade-goers love emcee Darryl Peek, who keeps the parade going and works the crowd during breaks in the action.

11 a.m. Dec. 14. Tri-City Plaza to Yale Avenue Sun Trust Bank. www.collegeparkga.com.

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