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.
Looking up at the sky a parachute jumper released a trail of red smoke and carried an American flag all the way down to Hawkins Field for a successful landing. On the ground a 5K run was taking place with more than 300 runners. The Desoto Parade was about to begin as we could hear the faint sound from 1 of the 6 marching bands at this year’s parade. Vendors were on the streets selling souvenirs and cotton candy, parade goers were swelling beer and screaming for beads as the pirates invaded Bradenton.
The Desoto Heritage Festival Parade is Manatee counties largest parade and happens every spring in Bradenton. Many people will tell you that the Desoto Parade is the very best and most fun of all the festivals and parades in Manatee County year after year.
The Desoto Heritage Festival Parade honors the historical significance of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto’s landing near the mouth of the Manatee River in May of 1539. If you missed this year’s parade don’t worry you will have your chance again next spring. I recommend that you get there early, bring your chairs, and coolers, and get ready for a great time.