RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Raleigh Christmas parade is back for the holiday season.

The Christmas event takes place Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in Downtown Raleigh. Organizers say this year you can expect a big crowd.

“We had a great crowd last year, but I think this year it’s gonna be even bigger. We have so many people that have moved to our area and are new and want to see what is this magical thing called the Raleigh Christmas Parade,” said Jennifer Martin, Executive Director of Shop Local Raleigh.

Downtown businesses are also looking forward to Saturday’s festivities.

George Poniros and his wife, Kathy, own the Roast Grill near Hillsborough Street. They say they plan to open their hot dog business early on parade day.

“We call it our state fair day because its all day long. We open three hours early to do hot chocolate and coffee and then just keep going until about 5 o’clock,” said George Poniros. “It’s sort of like a zoo in here. People standing outside waiting patiently and having a good time eating.”

Martin says the parade and other big events are a big economic driver for downtown businesses.

“As merchants we do want people to spend local, shop local, come downtown, reinvest your money right in our community,” said Martin.

The Poniros’ agree. Following a tough couple of years due to the pandemic, they say they are looking forward to seeing the big crowds again.

“Last year was not too bad, it was more booming than the year before that, so we expect a little craziness tomorrow,” said Poniros.

If you plan on heading out to the parade there will be road closures. 

The parade route runs from Hillsborough, around the State Capitol and down Fayetteville Street.

Martin says if you do plan on heading out get there early.

“Good seats will still be available at 8:30 a.m. Any time after that you might be second or third row but there is not a bad seat on parade day,” said Martin. “It is gonna be a little cold. Santa came and he brought the weather with him so just plan to bundle up, dress in layers, come out for warmth and plan to be entertained.”

You can find more information on the Christmas parade, including a parade map and parking, here.