Is it lights out for Norfolk’s Grand Illumination parade? Organizers plan other holiday mini-activities this year

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — If you planned on taking in the annual Grand Illumination parade in Norfolk this weekend, you’re out of luck.

The tradition that has been running since 1984 is canceled again this year — and whether it comes back for other years is also up in the air.

“To produce an event like the Grand Illumination parade takes a long time and a lot of planning,” said Jessica Kliner, director of Marketing and communications for the Downtown Norfolk Council.

She told WAVY the DNC starts planning nine months in advance for the parade. With all of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 last winter, they chose to close the door and open a lot of windows.

“On Saturday, you’re going to see mini [activities] all around downtown,” Kliner said.

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The skyline illumination will spark a new celebration starting Saturday, Nov. 20.

The NEON district will be decked out with holiday art installations, elves will guide bicyclists on a Rudolph Ride along the Elizabeth river trail, High school bands and dancers will perform and the hot cocoa wars begin.

“The businesses have a lot of fun competing with each other and kind of doing some friendly smack-talk and getting as creative as they can with these hot chocolates,” Kliner said.

Santa will be taking pictures for free outside Tidewater Community College downtown, and you can snap selfies at two holiday light walls on either end of downtown: one near the Main hotel in the 100 block of Main Street the other in the 400 block of Granby Street.

Snow will fall on Granby Street while wandering carolers keep that warm fuzzy feeling going.

You can visit Winterfest on the Wisconsin or ice skate at MacArthur Center. Park once then walk around to experience the various activities.

Kliner said the holiday events will continue over six weeks.

There will also be a fresh wreath and poinsettia market on Small Business Saturday and holiday movie-themed meals and drinks at several restaurants the week of Dec. 3-10.

“That really will benefit downtown for far more than just one evening,” Kliner said.

That led us to ask: Could this mean lights out on the Grand Illumination Parade for good?

“I couldn’t say that now, I know that it’s definitely opened the door for some conversations for just what does make the most sense,” Kliner said. “As downtowns evolve and things change you know, who knows what the future will bring.”

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