Dade City kicks off its holiday season each year with the Magical Night Christmas Parade, an event that dates back to at least 1982.
It typically draws thousands of spectators, to see floats, entertainment acts, bands, vendors, seasonal displays and Santa Claus.
The annual Christmas shindig will press on, but under new guidance and leadership.
The Pioneer Florida Museum and Village now will host the downtown holiday event, instead of The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce.
The parade is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., in downtown Dade City.
The Dade City chamber indicated it wanted to focus efforts on larger events, such as the signature Kumquat Festival, traditionally held the last Saturday in January, according to Pioneer Florida Museum executive director Stephanie Bracknell Black.
The decision to hand the Christmas parade off to the local museum came after Black recently met with Dade City Chamber executive director John Moors and city administration.
“It was just mentioned to us that the chamber was no longer looking to do the Christmas parade,” Black said.
“They were looking for someone else to take it over…and it just seemed like a good fit for the museum to go ahead and take it over,” she said.
The Christmas parade was canceled last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Attendees shouldn’t expect too much change from the typical holiday format, at least for this year, as the museum takes the reins so close to the date.
The announcement of the parade organization change came in an Oct. 20 press release from the museum.
Many volunteers who have previously worked on the parade with the chamber are expected to continue to assist the museum.
“We’re doing mostly everything pretty much the same,” Black said. “We’ve had the similar requirements and stuff that they had done in the past. It’s going to be the same. We’re going to try to keep it the same as it always has been. It’s worked in years past, so we’re going to go ahead and give it a try and keep everything pretty much the same.”
The official parade route will begin at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Fifth Street, head west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Seventh Street, south to Church Avenue, and then east to Fifth Street, in front of the local post office.
Simpson Lakes jumped aboard as the parade’s first sponsor and Grand Marshal.
Black, who lives in Zephyrhills, has brought her children and grandchildren to the event many times over, during the parade’s three-decade run.
She’s also been actively involved in the festivities, when she worked for Habitat for Humanity of East & Central Pasco County, which has had floats in the parade previously.
“I think everybody looks forward to the night parade,” she said. “It’s part of everyone’s Christmas tradition in this area.”
It’s customary for people to eat, shop and stroll the city’s downtown area hours before the event kicks off. Attendees also are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets for the night’s showing.
Black acknowledged it’s tough to speculate about how many attendees are expected this year, with lingering pandemic issues, but she noted, “usually every year, it’s one of the bigger parades.”
The museum is currently accepting parade entry applications and other sponsors.
Parade entry applications are due by 5 p.m., Nov. 12.
Registration may close early if the parade entries reach the limited capacity of about 80 floats.
Black noted entries “seem to be coming in pretty quickly.”
The Pioneer Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the historic preservation and education of Florida’s pioneer heritage.
The museum is located a mile north of downtown Dade City, just off U.S. 301, at 15602 Pioneer Museum Road in Dade City.
For more information, visit PioneerFloridaMusuem.org, or call 352-567-0262.
Dade City Christmas Parade
When: Dec. 10, at 7 p.m.
Where: Downtown Dade City
Published November 03, 2021