More than 80 floats will be featured in 34th Annual Grand Illumination Parade on Saturday

NORFOLK, Va. – Downtown Norfolk will be illuminated and filled with holiday spirit during the 34th Annual Grand Illumination Parade on Saturday.

The family event is free and starts at 7 p.m.

Many businesses tell News 3 they’re looking forward to the crowds and business.

Neal Sanders, owner of A’Latte Coffee Cafe, said, “We open the doors around 4:30 and people start setting up around 5, 5:30 until the parade gets here; we have a line pretty much non-stop.”

The Annual Grand Illumination Parade is lighting up Norfolk’s skyline and kicking off the holiday season.

Eighty-one floats are taking part in the event, with at least 3,000 participants and volunteers including The Hurrah Players and the Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University bands.

“We have vendors all along to get something to eat, we have a ton of great restaurants, there’s MacArthur Center, you can shop, you can go to Dickens Christmas Towne — so really, there’s a lot to keep yourself busy,” said Jessica Kliner, director of marketing and communications for Downtown Norfolk City Council.

The parade will be walking two miles through downtown starting on Saint Paul’s Boulevard and ending on Waterside Drive.

Organizers said Waterside Drive will be closed by 6 p.m and suggest drivers get to downtown early.

“You can come before 5 p.m., and you get early bird parking, so it’s just $2 to park versus after 5 p.m. it’s $5,” Kliner said.

This year’s theme is “The Lights are Bright on Broadway,” and spectators said they’re looking forward to another year of fun.

“Just be able to watch and enjoy what’s going on in your location in the area,” said Sandra Vines. “It’s a great thing and we’re happy about it.”

Click here for Grand Illumination Parade’s website for more information.