Parades are a big thing on Anna Maria Island. It seems that every holiday there is a coordinating parade that takes place. People will line up off the road and wait for the floats to come by. It’s truly always a fun time, no matter what occasion the parade is for.
However, there is an extremely impressive (and massive) parade that takes place in Bradenton every year since 1939. The DeSoto Grand Parade is a huge event, and in recent years, it has brought in a crowd of over 200,000 spectators. To give a little background, In the early 1500’s, Conquistador, Hernando DeSoto, and his army of soldiers walked the grounds of Bradenton, making local and national history.
The parade travels 2.4 miles in a 3 hour time span with over 150 illuminated floats/entries. The parade starts at Manatee High School, and then travels to Manatee Avenue where it continues until it reaches Downtown Bradenton.
The event takes place on a Saturday, typically in the month of April. You’ll know the parade is going to start soon once you see lawn chairs out on the side of Manatee Avenue. This brings me to another important aspect of the DeSoto Parade, GET THERE EARLY! Walking to the parade is the best to avoid traffic. So if you have a friend or family member that lives close to the parade route, I’d ask to park at their place. Remember, Manatee Avenue will be closed starting around 5PM from 44th Street West, to U.S. 41.
So bring the kids, wear comfortable clothing, and collect some beads and other goodies at the annual DeSoto Grand Parade in Bradenton!
Anna Maria Island – A small town Anna Maria Island parade is just what is needed to bring together the locals and vacationers. When you forget your cares for a few hours, and become friends with anyone who sits next to you. You strike up a conversation about the pristine Anna Maria Island beaches, or even about the vacation rental they are staying in for their beach holiday while you wait for the first sounds of fanfare to hit your ears.
There is a simple thrill you get when you see the colorful floats, hear the music, to grab as many beads/candy as possible and also seeing the joy of children’s faces when someone in the parade looks their way before tossing something just for them! Even seeing someone on one of the floats you recognize will make you stand up and cheer. If you are a local or frequent visitor to Anna Maria Island you will see many businesses you know or have used in these parades. Maybe even one year you yourself will be on one of the floats handing out joy!
It seems Anna Maria Island has a parade for just about everything. Here is a list of some of the bigger parades you will see for different times throughout the year:
Christmas Parade – usually the 2nd week of December
Lighted Boat Christmas Parade – also usually the 2nd week of December
St. Patrick’s Day Parade – usually the Sunday right before or after March 17th
July 4th Parade – always on July 4th no matter what day of the week that is.
The parade route usually runs north from Coquina Beach on south Anna Maria Island, to the Anna Maria City Pier at the end of Pine Avenue using Marina Drive. Depending on how many floats participate will make the difference of where the parade starts. Island Real Estate always makes sure we have a presence, and everyone on the float is someone who works in the office and/or their families. We love the chance to get out in the community, and bring our beach guests a little extra happiness during their Anna Maria vacation.
Next time you plan your beach vacation on Anna Maria Island with Island Real Estate make sure to ask your Reservationist if there may be a parade during your stay! If there is make sure to set that day aside to come join in the festivities on Anna Maria Island. Look forward to seeing you soon with your lawn chair next to mine, and I may even share the goodies I collect.
Bradenton – One of the largest parades in the South that attracts over 200,000 people every year, is Bradenton’s famous Desoto Parade. To give a little background, In the early 1500’s, Conquistador, Hernando De Soto, and his army of soldiers walked the grounds of Bradenton, making local and national history. In the first few months of every year over 150 beautifully lighted and decorated floats are driven through the streets of the city. If you’re staying with us during this time, it is a highly suggested event to take part in with the entire family. Definitely come out to enjoy some tailgating, music, candy, beads, and various merchant carts on this exciting evening.
However, IMPORTANT to note, if you do plan on coming I highly suggest getting there at least an hour early to set up some chairs and get situated (This event gets EXTREMELY crowded and busy, so make sure to keep an eye on your children). This is a very fun parade, which is patrolled the entire time with an abundance of police officers and deputies to keep everyone safe, so don’t hesitate on bringing you’re entire family/friends to this entertaining time.
The annual Desoto Heritage Festival Parade had a crowd of an estimated 150,000 people downtown Bradenton and along Manatee Avenue last Saturday. Manatee Avenue and other locations were completely shut down by 5:30 p.m. allowing no traffic at all, as the crowd started to pour into the streets.