Lodi's annual Parade of Lights makes its way through downtown streets tonight. About 80 lighted floats are entered this year.
Streets will begin closing at 4 p.m. in preparation for the 6:17 p.m. parade, though many people are expected arrive much earlier, said Cynthia Haynes, who helped organize the parade.
Approximately 35,000 people attended the parade last year, Haynes said, and she expects as many this year. In anticipation of the crowds, organizers will begin running shuttles from remote parking lots at 5 p.m. at the following locations:
- Lodi Lake
- Kettleman Lane at Lower Sacramento Road, next to Starbucks
- Kettleman Lane at Hutchins Street, in the Mervyn's parking lot
- Grape Bowl parking lot, 413 E. Lockeford St.
The parade, which will include the Budweiser Clydesdale horses, Santa riding on a fire truck and countless other floats lighted with this year's "Joy to the World" theme, is expected to last for about an hour and 15 minutes, Haynes said.
Streets along the parade route, including portions of Pine, Church, School and Locust streets, will close at 4 p.m. and reopen by 9 p.m. Any cars not moved from the parade route by 4 p.m. will be towed, the Lodi Police Department said.
For senior citizens or disabled Lodi residents who need transportation and cannot stay out in the cold, a 40-passenger Dial-A-Ride bus will charge normal prices and allow passengers to stay in the bus for no extra fee. Arrangements may be made through Dial-A-Ride at 333-6805.
Those who plan to watch the parade from the streets are encouraged to arrive early with warm clothing and lawn chairs, Haynes said. Many downtown eateries will also offer hot food and drinks to the crowds to help offset the winter-like temperatures.
Although the Bank of America plans to close at 3 p.m. for the event, other businesses along the parade route, including the post office and the Stadium 12 theater, intend to remain open for their normal business hours, representatives of the businesses said Wednesday.
The parade begins in front of City Hall, which will also be the scene of a 5:25 p.m. tree lighting. The lighting will include songs performed by a bell choir and soloist.
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