The Snowflake Lane parade has just begun its 17th annual run at the Bellevue Collection, offering a unique experience for locals of all age every night until Christmas Eve.
The 30-minute event features falling snow, holiday music, toy drummers, dancers and several holiday-themed characters in a parade that runs along Bellevue Way between the Bellevue and Lincoln Squares. The event will close lose down the sections of Bellevue Way Northeast and Northeast 6th Street within the two squares for up to an hour and 45 minutes each night.
“The floats in the parade are very magical this year. They have even more lights and beautiful décor on them,” said Jennifer Leavitt, vice president of marketing for The Bellevue Collection. “It never gets old. I have seen all 14 years of our snowfalls and it still brings out the kid in me.”
”Bellevue square has long done the Snowflake Lane,” added Hillard Viydo, president of Arthur & Associates Holiday Photographers. “That’s something that’s exciting for us.”
Viydo has a history with holiday events as his company claims to be the first to offer professional photos with the department store Santa. Santa Photos will offer their annual Santa experience at the Bellevue Square alongside the nightly parade.
This year, Snowflake Lane is adding an all new experience for attending children.
“We wanted to tell the story about Snowflake Lane in a unique way and about how it snows every night for the kids,” Leavitt said. “Santa’s Snowflake Lane Factory was the perfect way to have an experience where the kids could ‘help make snow’ that is then stored in the ‘snow bank’ that is saved for Snowflake Lane every night.”
Viydo pointed out Santa’s Snowflake Factory as an innovation in holiday entertainment.
“They have built a new Santa experience that is now called the Snowflake Lane Factory,” Viydo said. “Part of that is when the families, children [and] adults of all ages go through, they’re helping the Snowflake Lane princess and toy soldiers make the snow for each night’s parade.”
The Snowflake Lane performance began in 2001 with just a few dozen performers and has since grown to a large production with nearly 300 cast members. Auditions are competitive and cast positions are widely sought by teen performers.
“Auditions were great. There were 600 performers that showed up which is incredible,” Leavitt said. “Such talent in this market.”
The event attracted up to 20,000 people during their biggest nights last year and this popularity prompted police to close down the streets during the event.
“They put a lot of thought into this and I think that it’ll get a lot of special notice,” Viydo said.
Between 6:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., Bellevue Way Northeast will be closed from Northeast Fourth Street to Northeast Eighth Street. Between 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Northeast Sixth Street will be closed from 105th Avenue Northeast to Bellevue Way Northeast.
During the closures, police mentioned there is parking available in the Westin Hotel parking garage for locals visiting other attractions, including the Bellevue Arts Museum.
“Please drive carefully this holiday season, take a little extra travel time to reach your destination safely and watch for pedestrians in crosswalks and driveways,” Bellevue police wrote in a press release. “Also, consider using other modes of transportation to avoid getting caught in traffic.”
Prior to the parade, locals will have the chance for a meet and greet with the Snowflake Lane characters at the Lincoln South Food Hall every Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The parade will also feature a charity event until Dec. 14. Working through local nonprofit organizations including Bellevue LifeSpring, Eastside Baby Corner, Imagine Housing and Wellspring Family Services, locals will be able to choose an ornament and purchase a gift to be wrapped and distributed to local children and families.
“I always suggest for the best experience and viewing, go early in the season and midweek if possible,” Leavitt added. “In addition, go early to the show. This show is so loved that [it] is not a show you can walk out at 6:45 p.m. and expect to find a spot in the front row.”