8 of America's most dazzling holiday parades

Published: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 @ 3:24 PM

Here are some of the most dazzling and spirited holiday parades across America The Once Upon A Christmastime Parade takes place in the Magic Kingdom park on Main Street The Children's Christmas Parade transforms the city of Atlanta into a magnificent winter wonderland Waking up bright and early on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Macy's Parade has been a long-standing tradition Celebrate Christmas in style with the city of Annapolis at the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parde New Year's Day is about celebrating,

It's time to dig up your jingle bells and festive decor− the holidays are right around the corner!

Along with merry times and rosy cheeks, parades arrive to keep you entertained. 

There are floats and boats dripping with shimmering lights, balloonicles (balloons on bicycles) and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

RELATED: 5 things to know about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Here are eight of the most dazzling and spirited holiday parades across America:

Mickey Mouse presides over the holiday festivities during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This enchanting after-hours party showcases special entertainment, including "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade" and a holiday edition of the fireworks spectacular "Wishes," as well as meet-and-greet opportunities with favorite Disney characters in holiday attire. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)(Walt Disney World)

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade

Orlando, Florida

Opening Dec. 1

Since its opening in 1971, children (and adults) gravitate towards Disney World, the beloved epicenter of childhood fantasy. Some choose to visit Mickey and friends during the summer months, but beginning in November things start to get a lot more festive around the parks. The Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, part of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, takes place in the Magic Kingdom park on Main Street. Spectators can expect to see most of their favorite Disney characters, including Mickey, Olaf and even Santa Claus.

A fan favorite balloon at the Children's Christmas Parade in Atlanta(Courtesy of Children's Christmas Parade for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Facebook/For the AJC)

Children's Christmas Parade 


Dec. 2

Get into the holiday spirit and plan to attend not only one of the largest Christmas parades in the Southeast but one that also benefits a great cause. Since 1981, the Children's Christmas Parade transforms the city of Atlanta into a magnificent winter wonderland with marching bands, dancers and festive balloons. And if you want to take your holiday spirit even further, breakfast with Santa is available before the parade starts.

Reston Holiday Parade

Reston, Virginia

Nov. 24

In its 27th year, the Reston Holiday Parade is a sight to see. It features Macy's-style balloons, musicians, dancers and antique cars marching along the half-mile parade route on Market Street. Besides the parade, the community of Reston offers a hoopla of other holiday festivities, including photo ops with Santa, a Christmas tree lighting and the Gingerbread Man Mile.

Christmas Ships Parade

Portland, Oregon

Dec. 1-21

This nautical tradition in Portland has been going full steam for over 60 years. The parade features 60 ships of all shapes and sizes decorated with holiday sparkling lights. Each night over a three-week period the boats tour different areas, providing holiday cheer to land-side onlookers. Spectators can see the ships close up, take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus and even meet the boat captains.

Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade

Calistoga, California

Dec. 2

Christmas in California never looked brighter than at the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade. Feast your eyes on dazzling lights and tractors old and new as they parade through the ever-growing Napa Valley event. This ultimate small-town holiday parade is a unique way to take in the agricultural heritage while celebrating the Christmas season.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Santa Claus proceeds down 6th Av, during the 90th Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 24, 2016 in New York City. Security was tight in New York City on Thursday for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade after ISIS called supporters in the West to use rented trucks in attacks as similar as the ones operated in France this summer where at least 86 people were killed.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

New York

Thanksgiving Day

Waking up bright and early on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Macy's Parade has been a long-standing tradition. New York City goes all out: the parade features giant floating balloons of all the best cartoons characters, along with balloonicles, floats, marching bands, clowns, famous performers and local performance groups from around the country.

A boat-float all decked out for the holidays(Courtesy of the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade Facebook/For the AJC)

Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade

Annapolis, Maryland

Dec. 9

Celebrate Christmas in style with the city of Annapolis as holiday spirited boats take over the harbor. Families and friends have gathered for the past 35 years on the second Saturday in December to cheer on and revel from their favorite viewing spots. Some past favorites have included Star Wars-themed vessels and giant lit-up martini glasses.

Mummers participating in the Philadelphia New Years Day Parade(Courtesy of Wikimedia/For the AJC)

The Mummers Parade


New Year’s Day

The Christmas parades are over, Thanksgiving is left in the dust and the shiny NYC ball has dropped -- what is there to do now? Well, celebrate the New Year of course. New Year's Day is about celebrating, and there's no better place to do so than Philadelphia's Mummers Parade. The nearly 120-year-old tradition features "Mummers" dressed in lavish, colorful costumes as they strut down one of the city's main streets. Mummery has been a tradition for many Philadelphia-area families for generations, consisting of men and women of all ages who belong to more than 40 organized clubs. The parade extravaganza is tightly choreographed and full of noisy camaraderie, a fierce, fun way to ring in the New Year.

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'Beware the Ides of March' -- What does that mean?

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

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Today marks the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class. Here are some things to know about the 15th day of the month.

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Day marks the assassination of Julius Caesar

Most famously on this date, some 2,060 years ago, Roman dictator Julius Caesar died in an assassination by senators at the Curia of Pompey.

Tensions had been simmering between senators and Caesar before his death, fueled by Caesar's continued consolidation of power. However, Caesar considered the senators his allies. Just a few years before his death, Caesar was named “dictator in perpetuity,” a move that further strained relations.

According to historians, sixty senators planned and participated in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in 44 B.C.

Death marked a turning point in Roman history

Caesar was popular with the lower class people of Rome, who saw his death as an unwelcome decision made by the aristocratic class. With Caesar no longer leading, potential leaders waged war to fill the power vacuum.

The civil wars eventually culminated in the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Roman Empire.

'Beware the Ides of March' made famous by Shakespeare

In case you really did forget your high school English class, it's worth noting the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his tragic masterpiece “Julius Caesar.”

In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15, although the ruler ignores the mystic with tragic consequences.

Famous line based on historical events

It may come as a surprise to know the well-known phrase was actually inspired by real events.

According to Greek historian Plutarch, a seer really did warn Caesar that he would be at the very least injured by the Ides of March.

Caesar did not heed the warning.

On the day of his death, he saw the oracle and joked that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded the day had not yet ended.

So why is it called the "Ides of March?"

The Romans kept track of days on its calendar by dividing each month up into three separate points marking the beginning, middle and end of the month. You may have guessed it but the Ides fall in the middle of the month, on the 15th of March, May, July and October and the 13th for the rest of the year.

The Ides were sacred and marked a monthly sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter. Various other religious observances also took place on the Ides of March.

Other famous events on this day

Today isn't the anniversary of Caesar's death. Here are a few other famous events that have happened today in history:
  • 1972: Forty-four years ago (yes, that number is right) Francis Ford Coppola's three-hour crime epic "The Godfather" first played in theaters. Before "Jaws" came along in 1976, the film was the highest-grossing film ever made. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

  • 1917: Czar Nicholas II was forced by the revolting Russian people to abdicate the throne after ruling the country for more than 20 years. The February Revolution -- so named because Russia used the Julian calendar at the time -- broke out just four days before the czar abdicated his throne.

  • 1767: Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, was born on this day somewhere between the Carolinas near the end of the colonial era. His exact place of birth is disputed.

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Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 8:18 AM

Valentine’s Day Deals 2018

From flowers to a gift to dinner out, Valentine's Day can be an expensive holiday.

>> White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again

To help you save some money, these restaurants are offering some cheap or free Valentine's Day meals.


If you're without a significant other this Valentine's Day – or even if you've found a new sweetie and want to score some free wings – participating Hooters locations will help you shred your ex. Shred online and print a coupon to take to the restaurant or bring in a photo of your former love and let Hooters shred it. In return, you can buy 10 boneless wings and get 10 free – and maybe a bit of catharsis. Learn more at www.hooters.com.

Fogo de Chão

If you make a reservation and dine at a participating Fogo's location anytime from Feb. 10 through Feb. 17, you'll be able to save on a return visit. You'll receive a complimentary churrasco dining card that you can use next time you're in the restaurant. (As is usually the case, "certain restrictions apply.") Learn more at http://fogodechao.com. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Take advantage of the restaurant's "Qdoba for a Kiss" promotion, and you'll be able to buy one entrée and get one free at participating restaurants on Feb. 14. Bring your significant other to kiss, smooch a photo of your favorite celebrity on your cellphone or even pucker up to a burrito – anything goes! 

On top of that sweet deal, from Feb. 6-28, if you share a kissing photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss, Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid HungryFor more information, visit www.qdoba.com.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse offers a Valentine's Day meal for two at participating restaurants from Feb. 12-16. For a special price (which varies by location), a couple can share a Bloomin' Onion, choose two entrees (center cut sirloin, grilled salmon or Alice Springs chicken), two sides, two salads and cheesecake for dessert. Learn more at www.outback.com.

California Pizza Kitchen

Enjoy a "Sweet Deal for Two" at participating California Pizza Kitchen locations from Feb. 14 to 18, and you'll get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from their special menu for $35. Choose from among three appetizers, 10 entrees or four desserts. As a further incentive, if you tag your sweetie or best friend in California Pizza Kitchen's Facebook post with the hashtag #CPKgiveaway, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.cpk.com.

Waffle House 

Waffle House probably isn't the restaurant you think of when you're picturing a candlelit dinner with cloth napkins and tablecloths, but that's just what they're doing on Valentine's Day. You can enjoy alcohol-free champagne as the lights are dimmed, and choose from breakfast favorites or special offerings like ribeye and eggs. Many locations are participating, so check for your location's phone number and contact person for reservationsLearn more at ww.wafflehouse.com.

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List ranks best U.S. cities to get married

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 @ 5:16 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:21 AM

A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Looking for a place to get married? A new study claims that there is a premiere wedding destination in our own backyard.

According to WalletHub, Orlando ranks as the top city for weddings in the United States, and Atlanta is right behind at third. The study looked at factors such as the average cost of a wedding, the number of wedding chapels, churches and bridal shops in an area and the area with the most attractions.

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WalletHub said its methodology involved comparing 15 U.S. cities in cost, activities and attractions and facilities and services.

Las Vegas lost its top spot in 2018, with Orlando now number one, and Sin City coming in at number 2.

Take a look at the rankings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Atlanta
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Miami
  6. San Diego
  7. San Francisco
  8. Chicago
  9. New York
  10. Portland, Oregon

Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, made the list at 11th, 19th, 23rd and 28th, respectively.

Other cities on the list include Spokane, Washington, 54th; Pittsburgh 35th, Seattle 12th, Tulsa, Oklahoma, No. 46th, and Memphis, Tennessee, 51st.

The full list ranking 182 cities can be found at WalletHub.

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this story.

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Valentine’s Day takes on special meaning for parents of hospitalized babies

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:02 AM

NICU Babies Warming Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hospitalized babies can pull at the heart strings of even the most courageous among us.

When babies are sick or born prematurely, the families of these children are under enormous emotional and, often, financial pressure.

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Some 380,000 babies, or one in every 10, are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States every year, the March of Dimes estimated. Most end up in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the March of Dimes said.

In Kansas City, Missouri the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital is aware of the hardships parents face when their babies are hospitalized. That’s why they planned a special Valentine’s Day celebration in recent years.

Related: Valentine's Day: List ranks some of the nation's best places to celebrate

The staff and volunteers, calling it a “special celebration of love,” assembled tiny knit caps with hearts that each baby in their care will wear for a special Valentine’s Day photo shoot. They’re also making baby footprint valentines for the parents.

“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” March of Dimes NICU Family Support coordinator, Rebecca Keunen said in a press release.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  

The nonprofit developed the NICU Family Support program to help families while their babies are in the intensive care unit, but even when these babies leave the hospital, they often face serious health challenges. The March of Dimes said these children are at higher risks for lifelong disabilities, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that focuses on pregnancy, baby health and conducts research into premature births.

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