Christmas Parade map
Some camping chairs spotted today along Lemon Street might be the first ones set up for Thursday’s Lakeland Christmas Parade. Then again, they look like they’ve been there awhile, so maybe not. Either way, city spokesman Kevin Cook said it’s not a good idea to set up chairs before Wednesday evening.

Several chairs that were put out early last year were stolen, he said. And city crews will remove chairs that block roads, driveway and business entrances.

[box]The 36th annual Lakeland Christmas Parade (Facebook page), sponsored by the Junior League of Greater Lakeland, starts at 7 p.m. with fireworks over Lake Mirror. Floats will set off from the Lakeland Center and wind through downtown following the same route used in recent years (see map above). The theme is “Miracle on Main Street,” and more than 100 groups are participating. [/box]

Last year people started leaving chairs on downtown streets as early as the Tuesday before the parade, prompting criticism that the chairs were both a safety hazard and unfair.

city blog post about the parade posted today highlights rules about chairs:

  • Chairs may be placed along the parade route, but NOT more than 24 hours in advance.
  • Chairs obstructing any roadways, driveways, entrances, etc. will be removed.
  • For safety, please do not completely block sidewalks or entrances to buildings and parking lots.
  • Please allow enough room for pedestrians and those in wheelchairs to pass through on sidewalks and pathways
  • Please do not leave chairs directly in front of the fire station, blocking the driveway that fire engines use to respond to emergencies.
Chairs were seen Monday along the parade route on Lemon Street near the Lakeland Center. |

The Downtown Lakeland Partnership adds these tips:

  • If your chairs are too close to the street, they might make it difficult for people to get out of the passenger side of their car.
  • If your chairs are all tied together in a long string, it might make it difficult for people to cross to the business they’re parked in front of.

The parade will run rain or shine. Rain threatened last year’s parade, but the skies were clear by the time the floats took off, and attendance estimates ran as high as 40,000. (See a gallery of photos and videos from last year’s parade.)

For people attending the parade, the city offers parking tips and reminds that alcohol is prohibited, as are any glass bottles or containers. A key tip: If you plan to leave before the parade ends, make sure you don’t have to cross the parade route to return to your car.

(My own tip: If you live within a couple of miles, walk. The last time I tried to get home from downtown after the parade, it would have been faster — and far less stressful — to walk.)

Those not attending will be able to watch live coverage hosted by Cook and city recreation official Julie Adams on LGN via web, Brighthouse/Spectrum Channel 643 or Frontier FiOS Channel 43.

In addition, the city will be posting video features about parade preparation to its Facebook page on Thursday.

Like last year, Lkldnow will post social media photos to a gallery during the parade, so participants can see it through others’ eyes as soon as they get home Thursday night. We’ll continue adding photos after the parade, so there will be more to see on Friday morning.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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