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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 

Atlanta

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

Philadelphia

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.

New Year's baby born on freeway after South Carolina police chase

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 5:31 AM

VIDEO: New Year's Baby Born on Freeway Following Police Chase

A South Carolina father watched his baby girl’s birth while he was in handcuffs.

>> Watch the news report here

WCIV-TV reports Carl Alewine’s fiancee’s water broke early on New Year’s morning and he was racing down Interstate 26 near Charleston to get her to the hospital.

>> On WSOCTV.com: South Carolina woman slips out of handcuffs, hijacks cruiser, deputies say

The car was traveling at more than 90 miles per hour when several law enforcement officers started chasing Alewine.

He just kept going until officers eventually boxed him in and forced him to pull over.

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

They had Alewine in handcuffs when his little girl, Anastasia, came out with one push.

>> On WSOCTV.com: New section in North Carolina DMV handbook explains what to do when pulled over

"I'm sitting there, watching her born on the hood of the car, fireworks going off in the background, because it's 1 in the morning on New Year's and then they let me out of handcuffs and all the cops started clapping and congratulating us," Alewine recalled.

>> Read more trending news 

The baby was born healthy, even though the mother went through a high-risk pregnancy. 

The family said they're thankful for the first responders' help. 

Tiffany Trump rings in new year at Playboy party

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 1:35 AM

Tiffany Ariana Trump is the 24-year-old daughter of Donald Trump and his second wife, Marla Maples. She was named after jewelry store Tiffany & Company, which is adjacent to Trump Tower. She is known for her active social life and Instagram with more than 946,000 followers. Tiffany spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention on its second night.

After a week at Mar-a-Lago with her presidential family, Tiffany Trump headed to California to spend New Year’s Eve with a very different kind of group.

>> Trump golfs, meets with Florida's governor before hosting gala event

The first daughter was a guest at a Los Angeles bash hosted by heir to the Playboy throne Cooper Hefner. The 24-year-old was photographed speaking to Hefner and posing beside his fiancee, Scarlett Byrne, as well as other friends, multiple media outlets reported, including the Washington PostPage SixPeople and the Daily Mail.

>> PHOTOS: Tiffany Trump through the years

Tiffany Trump and Scarlett Byrne, @playboy #NYE2018

A post shared by Candace Jordan (@candidcandace) on

@playboy #NYE2018

A post shared by Candace Jordan (@candidcandace) on

Tiffany Trump has joined the @playboy party!

A post shared by Candace Jordan (@candidcandace) on

The event marked the first New Year’s Eve bash since magazine founder Hugh Hefner’s death on Sept. 27. He was 91 years old.

The late Hefner reportedly had wanted Marla Maples — Tiffany’s mother and Donald Trump’s second wife — to pose in his controversial magazine just three years before Tiffany’s birth. However, the actress turned down the offer.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’m thankful for my body, but I didn’t want to exploit it,” she reportedly said. “How would I ever be taken seriously?”

10 tips for sticking with your exercise plan in the new year

Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 8:34 AM

Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

It’s the New Year’s resolution that everyone has and virtually no one keeps: We want to get in shape.

Here are 10 tips to help you keep on track:

>> New Year's resolutions: 4 tips for avoiding gym membership scams

1. Make a plan

If you made your decision on New Year’s Eve, that’s only making a decision based on your emotional state that day. Make a plan for big and small goals and particular parts of your body you want to target to help keep you focused. A health professional can help with this.

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2. Be realistic

While you might be adamant that you’ll never eat bread, meat or chocolate chip cookies again, making that one of your goals is setting yourself up to fail. Instead, go for what’s attainable: Instead of having your favorite food three days a week, you’ll only have it once. Start small and build.

>> How to keep your New Year's resolutions this time

3. Create a battle plan

Despite all your best efforts, temptation will come knocking. Try to decide in advance how you will deal with wanting to skip that exercise class or have that piece of cake. This could include calling or texting a weight loss buddy, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your “bad” will affect your goal.

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4. Talk about it openly

Wanting to live a healthier life is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. Don’t treat your resolution like a dirty little secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve.

With any luck, they’ll help you find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and can help you stay motivated.

>> Read more trending news 

5. Document your feelings

Why is getting in better shape a good idea? Write down all the reasons that are motivating you, from wanting to be able to walk up the stairs without losing your breath to wanting to look better on the beach. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.

6. Keep track of your progress

It sounds like this list has more writing down than working out, but it is important to keep track of your progress. Being able to see where you were and how far you’ve come is an important way to keep yourself motivated.

For example, instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost.

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7. Rewards are OK

Rewards are a good thing. Don’t think that because you’re losing weight, you have to become an ascetic. Instead of going out to eat to celebrate a milestone, treat yourself to new fitness clothes or by going out to a movie.

>> 9 inspiring New Year's resolution quotes to motivate you in 2018

8. 21 days

Exercising and working out won’t become good habits overnight. By Tuesday of the second week, all the newness will have worn off, and it’ll start getting harder to get up and get moving, especially if you’re exercising before work.

Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. Get through that first three-week stretch, and you’ll be making real progress.

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9. Give yourself a break

It’s not the day missed at the gym or the indulgence in ice cream that’ll knock you off track – it’s the obsessing about it afterward.

Negative thought patterns won’t help maintain your positive plan. Do the best you can each day, and take one day at a time.

10. Don’t give up

Maybe you hit the Valentine’s Day wall – or even the Jan. 15 wall. But that’s not a reason to give up.

Start with one meal, then one day. You can do anything for 24 hours. Once you start building on the 24-hour increments, before long you’ll be back in the groove.

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4 Things to Do in the Morning to Lose Weight

5 epic New Year's Eve destinations that aren't New York 

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 12:04 PM
Updated: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

Here are 5 interesting facts about this celebratory drink!

The thought has probably crossed your mind: someday I'll spend New Year's Eve at Times Square in New York City.

You'll be part of that massive crowd as the whole country watches and counts down to the moment the crystal ball drops. With your friends or significant other, you'll toast the New Year with champagne and, just maybe, one of those TV cameras will take notice and your faces will flash across screens throughout the country.

RELATED: 5 East Coast ski resorts for the snow novice

It's a lovely dream, but the reality? New Year's Eve in the Big Apple means shelling out big bucks on hotels rooms, which need to be booked well in advance. On top of that, if you want any shot of being close to the center of Times Square when that giant crystal sphere falls, you'll have to stand for hours and hours in the cold ahead of the big moment.

It will certainly be memorable and it's a worthwhile bucket list item. But if you didn't plan ahead, don't feel like making the effort or simply want a less mainstream New Year's Eve experience, there's a lot of other great cities to consider. 

Here are our five suggestions, all of which are sure to help you bring in 2018 with lots of crazy memories:

Chicago, IL(Pixabay/For the AJC)

Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City offers all the excitement and fun you need this New Year's eve. From exciting parties to unique concerts, you'll definitely find something up your alley. For those interested in an epic party, check out the gala at the Congress Plaza Hotel. Canadian electronic duo Adventure Club will also be headlining the Reaction New Year's Eve event at the Aragon Ballroom, for those wanting to party it up at an EDM bash. And if you're looking for the perfect way to mark the start of 2018,  swing by Navy Pier for the spectacular annual fireworks display. 

Austin, TX(Flickr/Trey Perry/For the AJC)

Austin, Texas

Austin is one of those up-and-coming cities that everyone is talking about. So, why not check it out while welcoming 2018. You can bring in the New Year in roaring 20s style at Gatsby House, or party it up at Maggie Mae's Neon Party. For a more family friendly option, check out the city's event at Auditorium Shores. Fireworks go off at 10 p.m., so you can enjoy them with the kids and then go out for a night cap after tucking them in. 

New Orleans, LA(WikiMedia/For the AJC)

New Orleans, Louisiana

It may not be Mardi Gras, but New Orleans promises to be lively as ever on New Year's Eve. Not to be outdone by the Big Apple, the city drops a fleur-de-lis at midnight in Jackson Square. Leading up to the big moment, you can enjoy live music and then ring in 2018 with a giant fireworks display. After midnight, swing by the bars of the city's famous French Quarter to welcome the new year with a toast.

Orlando, Florida

Where better to welcome the New Year than at the most magical place on Earth? Disney World's Magic Kingdom will never disappoint and offers fun for the entire family. For those wanting to catch the Disney magic without shelling out big buck for park passes, Downtown Disney offers great views of the castle's fireworks, and you'll only have to pay for parking.

RELATED: Atlanta named one of the best cities in the US to celebrate New Year’s Eve

Atlanta, Georgia

If you can't wander far this holiday, no worries! Atlanta definitely knows how to ring in the New Year. Don't miss the city's iconic midnight Peach Drop. A slew of concerts and other parties will also be happening throughout the city.

Regardless of where you end up this New Year Eve, make sure you're surrounded by people you love. Whether you're in Atlanta, Chicago or the Magic Kingdom, the people you're with will create the most special memories.