Now that we have "lit up" Ocala. And stuffed ourselves with Thanksgiving fare.
The first Christmas Parade was held in the mid 1930’s and was planned by a merchant’s division of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce. In those days the parade proceeded down Magnolia Avenue and circled the downtown square.
In the 1950’s, the Parade had grown considerably and by 1959 had 182 units – the largest number of units paraded in Ocala’s history. During the 1960’s, a number of other events were added, including the Sunshine Christmas Bowl Game, a beauty contest, square dancing and home decorating contests – all of these events became a part of what was to be known as the Sunshine Christmas Festival.
If you plan on attending, get there early as the Parade attracts over 60,000 spectators from Ocala/Marion County and surrounding counties who line up along more than 2 miles of East Silver Springs Blvd in Ocala, Florida. Some of these spectators arrive as early as the Friday before the parade to “mark their spot” with lawn chairs, trucks, flatbed trailers or motor homes.
Best of all, this event helps our community. The Friends of the Christmas Parade, Inc., a non-profit organization was formed and organized by all the members of the original Chamber’s Christmas Parade Committee. The Friends of the Christmas Parade have continued to improve and fine-tune the largest night time parade in the State of Florida while giving back to the community with allocations to Ocala/Marion County youth organizations.
We look forward to seeing you there!