SEC Championship, Christmas parade to jam downtown streets

With a morning Christmas parade followed a few hours later by the SEC Championship football game, Saturday promises to be a jam-packed day in downtown Atlanta.

Several downtown streets, including Peachtree Street from Harris Street south to Marietta Street and Marietta Street from Peachtree Street west to Centennial Olympic Park, will be closed for the 30th annual Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade, which steps off at 10:30 a.m. and runs through noon. Before the parade, the stretch of Peachtree between Pine and Harris streets will be shut down beginning at 8 a.m.

If you don’t want to fight the traffic downtown, the parade will be telecast live on WSB-TV, Channel 2.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, the Auburn Tigers take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome.

Doug Turnbull in the AM750 and now 95.5 FM Newstalk WSB Traffic Center says that big delays can be expected exiting the Downtown Connector onto Williams and Spring streets, as well as on surface streets surrounding the Dome. Turnbull suggests taking MARTA as an alternative to driving downtown for Saturday’s events.

Complicating traffic issues Saturday will be the closure of a Downtown Connector ramp for construction. The ramp from I-75/85 northbound to the Buford-Spring Connector, Exit 86, will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Other weekend events include Friday night’s Hawks game at Philips Arena and a Sunday night concert at the arena by Usher.

In Cobb County, the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Cobb Galleria Centre, with guest appearances by Henry Winkler, and by Adam West and Burt Ward, TV’s original Batman and Robin.

While there’s a 20 percent chance of showers on Saturday, the rain isn’t expected until after 1 p.m., which should be good news for parade marchers and watchers.

Afternoon highs in the mid-50s will be followed by lows Saturday night in the mid-30s.

In the mountains of northeast Georgia, there’s a 20 percent chance of a rain and snow mix Saturday night, as temperatures dip into the upper 30s.

Sunday should be sunny but cold, with highs in the mid-40s and lows Sunday night in the mid-20s.