A line of floats rolled down Fourth Avenue Saturday night for the annual Torchlight Parade, one of the Seafair Festival’s oldest traditions.

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A line of floats rolled down Fourth Avenue for the annual Torchlight Parade, one of the Seafair festival’s oldest traditions.

The Saturday night parade, from Seattle Center through downtown to Fourth Avenue and South Washington, kicked off at 7:30 p.m., but the sparkle of the lights on many of the floats really shined as the sun set.

Jeffrey Smith, from Seattle, said he enjoyed two of the first groups to march — the respective pipe and drum players of Seattle police and firefighters.

“When else do you get to hear bagpipes? Only during a parade like this,” he said.

Close behind the bagpipers was a green King County Metro bus, decorated with multicolored balloons. Several of Seattle’s international communities were celebrated at the parade, with one float depicting China’s high-speed bullet train and another carrying riders dressed in traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai outfits.

Because of its long life as a Seattle tradition, the Torchlight Parade attracts many of the same spectators each year. Debra Draper, from Mukilteo, has watched the parade for nearly 20 years.

“If you’re a Seattleite, you have to go to Torchlight,” she said.

This year Draper was in the parade. She was part of one of the equestrian groups, and wore a crown of flowers as part of the Caulio Pa’u riders, representing Colors of Hawaii, a Lake Stevens business. The riders, all women, dressed as Hawaiian princesses and were led by a queen, who wore white.

Elizabeth Boring, from Shelton, was on a float celebrating the heritage of Mason County’s logging towns. Several other Mason County youth joined her on the float, which bore a large sign saying, “We are timber strong!”

“We can’t always get into the Seattle parade because it’s so busy,” Boring said.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of spectators expected to attend arrived early to secure spots on Fourth Avenue.

Deirdre Gaye, of Mukilteo, said she and her family showed up at 2:30 p.m. They set up lawn chairs at Seattle Center, a spot they’ve watched Torchlight from for more than 10 years.

“The age range of our group is from about 16 months to 50 years,” Gaye said. “I just love everything about the parade.”