Denver traffic is going to be the actual worst: Parade of Lights edition

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If you don’t need to, don’t try to drive downtown on Friday. Don’t do it on Saturday, either. It’s going to be the worst.

The Parade of Lights starts at 8 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday, and street closures around Civic Center Park, the Downtown Business District and the Golden Triangle will begin hours beforehand.

Here’s a map of the closures, with the parade route closures in black, the staging area closures in pink and the parade route in purple.

On Friday, streets in the staging area will be closed from 5:30 p.m. to midnight and streets in the parade area will be closed from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

On Saturday, streets in the staging area will be closed from 3:30 to 10 p.m. and streets in the parade area will be closed from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

If you’re familiar with street closures in Denver or any major city, you know what this means. If you’re not, let me lay it out:

Don’t even get anywhere near this thing. Just stay away. It’s safe to assume you’ll have to sit through the same Speer Boulevard traffic lights for several rounds. It’s also safe to assume other drivers will be doing that thing where they make everyone else pay for their own mistakes. It might even ruin Christmas. You just can’t take that chance.

But I’m going to the parade!

Ah, well then. May I suggest public transportation? It’s really great.

If you’re coming from somewhere further away, take the light rail.

The H, F and D lines (coming from Aurora, Lone Tree and Highlands Ranch, respectively) will drop you at the Theatre District or 18th and Stout stations.

The A, B, C, E and W lines (coming from the airport, Westminster, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree and Lakewood, respectively) will take you to Union Station, where you can catch the free Mall Ride.

Note: The Mall Ride will not operate during the one-hour parade.

If you’re going to drive, don’t get too stuck on the idea of finding free street parking. I say take whatever lot or garage you can get into.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

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