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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Sweet Treats at Candyland Themed Christmas Parade in Downtown Lakeland

by James Coulter

Gingerbread men, sugarplum fairies, and other sweet treats and creatures marched their way through Downtown Lakeland during the city’s annual Christmas parade on Thursday evening.

Nearly 100 units including floats, marching bands, and fire and rescue vehicles traveled along this year’s parade route, which started at the RP Funding Center and made its way along Main Street through the downtown area.

Hosted by the Junior League of Greater Lakeland, this year’s parade was themed to Candyland, with floats decorated in various candies and even after the eponymous board game.

Many special guests appeared during the parade including Smokey the Bear, the Lakeland Tiger mascot, and even the big man himself, the reason for the season, and everyone’s favorite personality this time of year—Sheriff Grady Judd! (Oh, and Santa Claus, too!)

Deborah Matthews has been participating with the Hogs Life 4H Club for several years. This year, their float was themed to Candyland with children dressed in their pajamas.

“I have participated in this before,” she said. “I love to see the joy on these kids’ faces. My expectations are just to have fun.”

Audra Montalbano from Medulla Elementary has been participating in the parade with her school for seven to eight years. She loves designing the float with staff and students and being able to help their community usher in the holiday season.

“It is fun,” she said. “We have a blast. We love designing the floats, and it is a blast. I look forward to being with the children and staff members and having fun.”

Elizabeth Wisneski from the Family Martial Arts Center was proud to have their fearless dragon blowup figure to protect its candy hoard on the float. Having participated for the past 10 to 12 years, she loves being able to celebrate the holidays with her community.

“I love the community spirit, and I look forward to the love and the community spirit, and I look forward to the family time,” she said.

author avatar
Staff Reporter

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