People celebrate the 36th annual Parade of Lights at Downtown Denver on Dec. 3, 2010.
People celebrate the 36th annual Parade of Lights at Downtown Denver on Dec. 3, 2010. (Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post)

Bundle up for some holiday cheer as the 37th Annual 9News Parade of Lights makes its way around downtown Denver on Dec. 2 and 3.

On Friday, the parade celebrates Denver's cultural and ethnic diversity with performances by the Boulder Samba School, Colorado Mestizo Dancers, Denver Taiko, Kusogea Nobi Drum Ensemble and the Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu Association.

Spectators can also expect to see four giant helium balloons, including a red-nosed reindeer and Major Waddles, the parade's penguin mascot. Fire artists Colorado Fire Tribe, Revive Christian Dance, The Westernaires and trick-performing dogs will add to the entertainment. The parade will also feature firefighters, paramedics and mounted police.

Saturday performances include the Colorado Lowrider Alliance, the Colorado School of Dance, the Montbello Drum Line and the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls.

Jake Jabs, president of American Furniture Warehouse, will be honored as the 2011 Parade of Lights Children's Ambassador.

Eight of Colorado's high school marching bands will provide music, and Colorado State University's Marching Band will march on Friday.

No parade would be complete without floats, and the 2011 Parade of Lights will present twelve brilliantly lit holiday-themed floats, one of which of course includes Santa Clause, riding on his sleigh from the North Pole.

The parade, which begins Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m., kicks off at the City and County Building at 14th Avenue and Bannock Street and will traverse two miles, making its way down Colfax Avenue, Tremont Place, 17th, Arapahoe and 15th streets, and ending at 14th Street and Glenarm Place.

Presented by American Furniture Warehouse and GO Automotive Group and produced by nonprofit organization Downtown Denver Events Inc., the Parade of Lights has been a holiday tradition since 1975. Over the two nights last year, the parade attracted 415,000 spectators.

Attending the parade is free anywhere along the parade route, and tickets for grandstand seating, in front of the City and County Building, can be purchased at http://www.denverparadeoflights.com/. Prices are $18 for adults and children over 13, $16 for children ages 2-12, and free for children under two if the child sits in the lap of a ticket holder. All tickets for grandstand seating purchased on the day of the event will be $18.

Volunteers from DDE will precede the parade each night, and spectators are encouraged to make a donation to support the parade. Contributions may also be made online at http://www.denverparadeoflights.com/. Donate $5 by texting PARADE to 27722.