New sponsorships and a combined celebration promise to add some sparkle to the start of this year's holiday season in downtown Chattanooga.
Long held as two distinct events, the Holiday Starlight Parade and Lighted Boat Parade will both take place Saturday, Dec. 8. Thanks to sponsorship by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 175, the Lighted Boat Parade will conclude with a fireworks display launched from Renaissance Park.
"It's on the land, in air and in the water," said Chattanooga Presents media coordinator Jonathan Susman. "I think it will make it feel like a bigger spectacle since it's all happening on one night."
The holiday smorgasbord will begin at 6 p.m. with the Holiday Starlight Parade, which is sponsored for the second year by Volkswagen. About 50 entrants representing area schools, businesses and organizations will follow a shortened loop between Fifth and Market streets and Fifth and Broad streets.
After the street parade, between 15 and 20 vessels will proceed in a flotilla between the Veterans and Olgiati bridges for the Lighted Boat Parade, which also has been sponsored by the IBEW. The fireworks finale will begin at 8 and will last about half an hour, Susman said.
A few of St. Nick's helper elves will be at Ross's Landing to hand out candy to the crowd. A limited number of vendors also will be selling concessions at the landing, where the majority of the expected 6,000 to 8,000 spectators are likely to congregate to view the Lighted Boat Parade and fireworks, Susman said.
The combination of two major holiday celebrations into a single night should be more than enough incentive for families to get in the holiday spirit.
"We want people to experience the whole night because it's one big, huge holiday event," he said. "It's a pretty full night of free entertainment for the family."
Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205.
Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.