During summertime celebrations, you’re likely to see parade members strolling, stopping to chat with friends and causing significant gaps in between entries. Sometimes they feel like they streetttchhhhhh along for hours in the hot summer sun.
But a winter affair usually takes place somewhere along the other end of the efficiency spectrum – you’ll still have happy memories, but the usual summer lollygagging is replaced by everyone hustling to get from the starting point to the end point as quickly as possible, and then head inside somewhere warm, with maybe hot cocoa or grown-up warm drinks.
Parade-goers also seem to appreciate this faster pace as well – though everyone loves a parade, not everyone loves worrying about frostbite from prolonged spectating. Though there are usually plenty of happy faces from the bundled-up masses, the applause can be subdued, mainly because gloves and mittens aren’t designed for effective clapping. On the bright side, the crowds are more manageable to wander through and find a good viewing spot.
All of the above reasons could be why Denver’s 9NEWS Parade of Lights has remained popular for 40 years, and has become what’s considered the state’s favorite holiday tradition. Each year, thousands of locals come out, plus excited visitors from all around the country.
It traditionally takes place the first Friday and Saturday in December, and serves as the area’s unofficial kick-off to the Christmas season – especially since Santa always makes an appearance.
The 2-mile route through downtown also includes plenty of marching bands, floats, dancing groups and other fun touches. Along with all sorts of local celebrities, another special visitor is Major Waddles the Penguin.
Though there’s no charge to watch the parade anywhere along the route, you can “upgrade” to a limited number of grandstand seats which are located in front of the City/County building which provide you with a better view.
The Downtown Denver Partnership, which organizes the event, takes pride in never having to cancel it – not even rain, snow, sub-zero temperatures, or all of the above have reqiored it to be shut it down. Everyone is just encouraged to bundle up a little more.
So far, the coldest parade – and they keep track – was 3 degrees with a -15 wind chill in 1985. The weather in 2013 hovered right around 10-15 degrees.
For those who aren’t up to braving the cold – or it feels a little nippier than usual – you can stay in your hotel and watch the parade, which is also broadcast live on Channel 9.
Whether or not you ever seen a winter parade, you have to admit that this one sets the bar quite high.
Denver’s Parade of Lights is perfect for clubs or church groups up for a fun weekend outing and ready to get a jump start on their holiday cheer. The group travel experts at The BusBank can help you put a great travel trip together.