It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Friday, Dec. 6, WIVK's 41st annual Christmas parade will make its way through Knoxville to bring holiday spirit to its attendees.
The parade began in 1972. Before then, the City of Knoxville presented the parade, but unforeseen problems threatened the end of the holiday favorite. To save the tradition, WIVK took the parade over.
Now, the two work closely together to provide citizens with this beloved event.
"I think part of its draw is the history," Cindy Arnold, WIVK's promotions director, said."It's right through the heart of downtown. It's televised. It's huge."
Working closely with WIVK, the City of Knoxville still helps to present the annual parade. The city assists with logistics such as making sure the street is closed and clean.
"We work to provide a safe, family-friendly environment," Kyndra Brewer, deputy director for the City of Knoxville's Office of Special Events, said.
Reaching beyond Knoxville, the parade is a staple in East Tennessee as a whole from its rich and beloved Knoxville history.
"It's been going strong for over 40 years," Brewer said."It's a family tradition. It's a Knoxville tradition. It's bright, it's fun, it's festive. It really helps you get into the holiday spirit."
While it is impossible to gather an exact estimate of how many attendees watch the parade, the city believes last year's parade exceeded 45,000 people.
Never wanting the parade to seem stagnant from year to year, Arnold oversees the parade to keep it an exciting event for attendees.
Last year, parade officials extended the parade into the Old City, allowing for more participation. This is a change that will continue this year.
"Every year, we try to make it better," Arnold said. "We try to keep it as commercial free as possible because it's about Christmas. Every year, we work to organize better, to flow better."
Nearly 100 organizations will send floats, cars, dancers and marching bands down the route. This includes businesses, churches and high schools for the enjoyment of those gathered. Sponsors expect the parade would be much longer if it were not kept at an hour for the TV broadcast.
"It has a little bit of everything," Brewer said.
Last year, a large pirate ship float became a crowd favorite. This year, Arnold said she expects something just as elaborate.
"A lot of the floats, we don't know what they are until they get there," Arnold said. "We have some pretty interesting things in the parade usually."
WVLT hosts Alan Williams and Heather Hayley will broadcast the event on the station while Dino Cartwright on Local 8 Now will announce floats to the crowd live on Gay Street.
Occurring the weekend in the middle of exam week for UT students, Arnold said she believes the parade is an ideal way to take a break and get into the holiday spirit despite the stress.
"If you come out to that parade, if you've never experienced it and you get out into the streets, you see people with camping chairs and blankets, and they bundle up their kids. They just line the streets, and it's beautiful," Arnold said. "You can't come and not be in the holiday spirit."