Saturday is going to be one of those days in Downtown Atlanta. Rain, Dawgs, Elton, and Santa Claus will complicate travels all day on the Downtown Connector, Peachtree, and the streets around both Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena.
The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade will run on Peachtree Street in Midtown, between 16th Street and 5th Street, starting at 10:30 a.m. The road closures for this usually begin in the 8 a.m. hour and the event goes on rain or shine. Arriving and parking will be a challenge, so take MARTA, if possible. Channel 2 Action News will carry the action live, with hosts Fred Blankenship and Linda Stouffer.
Concurrent with the parade, the Dr. Pepper SEC FanFare will commence at the Georgia World Congress Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., so expect big crowds there, off of Northside Drive. And the SEC Championship game itself will draw a tremendous crowd to MB Stadium for the 4 p.m. kickoff for the hometown Georgia Bulldogs and some team from the state just to our west.
Then as that is wrapping up, Elton John’s second of two “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” Atlanta dates will begin next door at State Farm Arena at 8 p.m. Traffic on Marietta Street, Centennial Olympic Park Drive, and Northside Drive will already be packed with football fans. Mix in the “Tiny Dancers” and the ride in the heart of Downtown will be a zoo.
Both the Dawgs’ and Elton’s events will jam I-75/85/southbound ramping to Williams Street and northbound onto the Peachtree/Pine and Spring Street exits. Stay away, if you can.
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The best bet getting to any of these events is MARTA. Take MARTA to the Midtown or Arts Center Stations to avoid the street closures for the Christmas Parade. And then the best MARTA station for both football and Elton John is the anachronistically-named Dome/GWCC/CNN Center/Philips Arena station. The Five Points MARTA Station is a 10 minute walk from the events and eliminates having to switch train lines. But with about 100,000 people expected at the game and concert combined, plan extra time even on MARTA to make the trip.
And on top of all this is rain and possibly storm activity. WSB Meteorologist Kirk Mellish predicts rain to start around 7 a.m. and continue through most of the day, with temperatures steadily holding in the 50s much of the day. Mellish says that the severe weather threat is minimal and the highest odds are to the south and west, but definitely prepare for precipitation.
The rain will only worsen the ride all over town and create a much higher likelihood for wrecks. So try and avoid Downtown Atlanta by vehicle Saturday and drive with your headlights on. Also be sure and download the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App for hands-free, automatic audio traffic alerts as you drive, produced by our 24-hour traffic team.
News 95.5/AM750 WSB will carry live Georgia Bulldogs coverage with the tailgate show at noon and kickoff at 4 p.m. WSB will also broadcast live from nine to noon at the Walmarts in both Woodstock and Peachtree City for Clark's Christmas Kids. Come buy some toys for Georgia's foster children and then curl up and listen to the Dawgs put a whippin' on Alabama Saturday.