Thousands of people are expected to converge on downtown Lakeland on Thursday evening for the spectacle of the annual Christmas parade and fireworks. Read on for a parade map and a look at festivity basics:
What: 41st Lakeland Christmas Parade
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, beginning with fireworks over Lake Mirror
Where: RP Funding Center and back via Lake Mirror (see the map below)
Who: 88 participants, including floats and marching bands; as many as 40,000 spectators have attended in the past. Sponsor: Junior League of Greater Lakeland
Theme: Season of Joy
Last year: The parade was cancelled because of COVID concerns.
Chairs: Spectators are asked to refrain from placing chairs until Thursday. Chairs placed earlier may be impounded.
Streets/parking: Streets along the parade route will begin closing at 3:30 p.m. Public parking is available on open, non-parade-route streets, in public lots and parking garages (map).
Accessibility: Wheelchair-accessible viewing areas are on both sides of Main Street near the Lakeland Fire Department HQ. Parking for vehicles with disability permits is available in the Rose Street Parking Lot.
Toilets: Portajons are marked in blue on the map.
Food vendor locations:
- Munn Park (southeast corner)
- Parking Lot M at Massachussetts and Cedar
- Future parking lot just east of the Joinery building
- Small pavers area near Lakeland Fire Department
- Lake Mirror Center Parking Lot
- Brick-and-mortar downtown restaurants
Length: From the time the floats get to your location, the parade typically lasts about an hour and a half.
Security: LPD typically has 150 officers on duty at the parade.
Awards are given in eight categories: most outstanding band, most original float, best professional float, best youth or educational float, best community float, best business float, best theme float and judge’s choice.
End of the parade: Santa and Mrs. Claus atop a sleigh float
Traffic: Lots. Expect delays getting home.
ALSO: LakelandMom publishes an excellent family-friendly guide to the Christmas parade with lots of tips for parade-goers. See it here.