Parade veterans know that the early bird gets the view. If you want to see more than just the top half of the floats, head downtown a couple of hours early to stake out your spot on the sidewalk. And here’s an insider tip: though Marion Square is a perennial favorite viewing point, watching the parade march down Broad Street while standing around Colonial Lake is even better. Once you’ve claimed your turf, get ready to watch floats, displays, and choreography from nearly 150 local organizations. One of the cutest of these is the Carolina Basset Hound Rescue, which brings as many bassets as they can rustle up to join the procession and spread some droopy-eared holiday cheer. Charleston’s new fire chief, Karen Brack, will lead the parade along with Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and the Citadel marching band. “It’s definitely a sampling of all that’s going on in Charleston,” says the fire department’s Pam Blevins. The march begins at Calhoun and Meeting Streets and works its way down King to Broad Street, before finishing at Lockwood Boulevard. Keep your eyes peeled for the jolly man in red — he’ll make an appearance, too.