2012 CMA Music Festival Kicks Off With Big Parade - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

2012 CMA Music Festival Kicks Off With Big Parade

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hundreds of people lined the streets of downtown Nashville Wednesday morning for the annual parade to kick off the 2012 CMA Music Festival.

The parade began at 11 a.m.  at 10th Avenue on Broadway and ended at the Riverfront Park. Country Music icon Glen Campbell was the Grand Marshal for the parade.

 PHOTOS: 2012 CMA Music Festival Parade

The Keep the Music Playing All Stars Marching Band, made up of 125 students representing eight Metro Nashville Public Schools, made their second appearance in the parade.

After the parade, there was a Block Party at the Riverfront Stage with Little Big Town headlining. The free concert started at 12:30 p.m. and was open to the public.

Later Wednesday, the CMT Awards purple carpet arrival starts at 4:30 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. Toby Keith and actress Kristen Bell are hosting the awards show, which starts at 7 p.m.

The CMA Music Festival runs Thursday through Sunday with free concerts each day at Riverfront and Bridgestone Plaza, and nightly concerts at LP Field.

As the CMA Fest kicks off, thousands of people came to Music City for the weekend, meaning hundreds of volunteers had to be in place and ready to help.

"I love Nashville. Eventually I want to move to Nashville hopefully," said Sharon Stewart, a self-proclaimed massive country music fan.

Stewart has volunteered for the festival for the last four years after taking vacation from her job as a paralegal in Pittsburgh to work in Nashville.

"I think I do enjoy it as a fan, it's just from a different angle and I enjoy it more this way than the other way," she said.

Martyne Carlier was visiting Music City with a group of friends from central France. She believed they show how country music can pull from not only across the country, but around the world.

"We dance country, we hear country music. Many, many people in France," Carlier said.

The festival runs until Sunday and features some of the top country music stars at venues all over downtown Nashville, including stages set up at Riverfront Park and LP Field.

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