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!