Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland
As people crowded the streets of Norfolk, awe-filled their faces as the Grand Illumination of the skyline began. With the theme, “Winter Wonderland,” it has been 32 years since the tradition of lighting up the streets of Downtown Norfolk began, followed by a parade to kick off the holiday season.
The Grand Illumination Parade takes place in the heart of the city, with six weeks of celebration leading up to Christmas and holiday events. Everyone is encouraged to attend the Virginia Stage Company’s “A Christmas Carol” and visit attractions such as Dickens’ Christmas Towne.
The parade started on Main Street, weaved through downtown and ended on Waterside Drive. Floats, giant balloons, marching bands and dancers made their way through the crowded city streets. Many exclamations of “ohs,” “ahs” and “look mommy and daddy,” could be heard throughout the crowd.
The audience was in the Christmas spirit, wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers. It truly felt like winter at the parade. The weather was windy and chilly, and people were wrapped up in their winter coats, hats and scarves.
As the parade came to an end, children stood up and jumped for joy as an appearance from Santa closed the celebration. Santa truly was the perfect ending to the beautiful parade.
Even MacArthur Center is in sync with the theme of “Winter Wonderland.” Santa’s palace has a wonderland for children to play. There is “snow” they can throw around, a television for them to watch Christmas movies and the perfect transition to meeting Santa.
There is also a drive-through holiday light show called “Holiday Lights at the Beach.” Now through Jan. 1 you can drive through a nautical, holiday wonderland down the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
One of the highlights is the colossal “12 Days of Christmas” display, where some fixtures stand 20 and 30 feet high! Drivers are able to tune their car radio to a frequency to hear holiday music along the “McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach” display.
There is a cash-only admission fee. Hours of operation are 5:30 p.m. to10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
So, do not be a Grinch and join in with the holiday spirit. Watch “Elf,” drink hot chocolate or go caroling – and whatever you do, just be happy!