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Kick off the holiday season with the Parade of Lights in Halifax on Saturday

Participants in the 2017 edition of the Parade of Lights in Halifax. This year's parade is on Saturday night.
Participants walk in the 2017 edition of the Parade of Lights in Halifax. This year's parade is on Saturday night. - Tim Krochak
HALIFAX, N.S. —

If the weather forecast for Saturday stays true, the weather outside won't be frightful and the 24th annual Holiday Parade of Lights will be a delightful and safe way to kick off the Christmas celebration season.

The colourful, dazzling moving display through downtown Halifax is an annual tradition that allows spectators from all walks of life to gather outdoors and enjoy a night of pageantry before the temperatures really start to plummet. Organizers promise a safe, enjoyable event as the floats and marchers depart the dockyards at 6 p.m. — immediately preceded by the fifth annual Red Nose Fun Run in support of the QEII Foundation — and wind their way along Barrington Street, Spring Garden Road, South Park Street and University Avenue, where the parade is expected to conclude between 8 and 9 p.m.

“We're constantly looking at safety with this event,” says Kevin Sanford, promotions manager at The Chronicle Herald, which presents the parade in partnership with Eastlink. “The vehicles all have escorts around them, and their job is to watch the spectators and ensure that the area around the floats stays clear.”

Sanford says safety is always a priority at the Holiday Parade of Lights, but over the past year the issue has been in the front of Nova Scotians’ minds after a four-year-old girl fell under a float and was killed during Yarmouth’s annual Christmas parade in 2018. Then in October, Cape Breton Regional Municipality voted to place a ban on nighttime parades due to safety concerns and a lack of resources, bringing an end to Glace Bay’s light-up parade after 60 years.

For the Holiday Parade of Lights, every intersection has barriers and is staffed with Halifax Regional Police officers, HRP’s motorcycle unit patrols the route and a large crew of volunteers monitors each block along the way.

Viewers with mobility issues can get an unencumbered view of the parade from a designated area at the corner of South Park Street and Spring Garden Road, by Victoria Park.

“We’ve been using this protocol for several years,” says Sanford. “For example, we fence in the area at the dockyards where we get the parade ready, and we have fencing where the parade ends and people disembark the floats around the intersection of Robie Street and University Avenue.

“Those are our areas to work, HRP is present and the public is not allowed in.”

Due to a large expected turnout, arriving at the parade route on foot or by using Metro Transit is recommended, as parking will be scarce downtown with special event parking restrictions in place on Saturday. Parking enforcement along the route will begin Saturday afternoon, and cars in no parking areas will be towed to make room for both the parade and spectators.

If you do take your car, you can park free at Scotia Square for a donation to Shelter Nova Scotia.

For more details on the parade, visit the parade's website.

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