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Christmas parade larger than ever

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- Despite forecasts of cold weather, Albany Water, Gas & Light officials say Saturday's Festival of Lights Parade will be the largest in the event's history, with more than 130 floats and participants set to ring in the holiday season.

WG&L spokesperson Laurie Farkas told WG&L Commission memberrs Thursday morning that interest in the annual yuletide event is greater than ever.

"We have 130 or so participants this year, which is the most we've ever had," Farkas said.

In its 19th year, the parade draws thousands from around Southwest Georgia into downtown Albany, usually rain or shine.

Those who attend may have to brave cold, wet conditions. The high for Saturday is projected to be in the low to mid 50s with rain expected before 1 p.m. That night, the low is expected to drop to freezing, the National Weather Service forecasts.

All week, WG&L crews have been working to light up downtown in advance of the weekend festivities.

Monday, crews installed the 25-foot Leyland Cypress donated by Glenn and Dot Dowling, which will serve as the downtown's Christmas tree, just off the steps of the Dougherty County Courthouse.

Throughout the week, crews have also been working on all the light displays throughout the downtown area, including a large display in front of the Government Center on Pine Avenue, on light poles throughout downtown and the five-story holiday fixture on WG&L's building downtown.

Farkas said 40,000 people flocked downtown to participate in the holiday celebration with more expected this year.