Ocala Christmas Parade

Ocala Christmas Parade
Photo: ocalachristmasparade.org
Every year, on the second Saturday in December, a small city of Ocala, Florida becomes the epicenter of the state’s largest nighttime holiday parade. The Ocala/Marion County Christmas Parade is sponsored by the Friends of the Christmas Parade, Inc. It was founded in the mid-1930s.

Just like many other holiday parades, the Ocala Christmas Parade was originally founded to boost sales during the Christmas shopping season. The first parade was organized by a merchant’s division of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce.

The parade was founded the mid-1930s, but it became a really significant event only in the 1950s. The 1959 parade featured 182 units, which is the largest number of participating units in the event’s history. During the 1960s, other events were added to the program of Ocala’s Christmas festival, including a beauty pageant, home decorating contests, square dancing, and a bowl game. Unfortunately, a lot of the events were later discontinued because of the lack of funding and the limited size of the organizing committee.

The Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce stopped producing the parade in 2003. Since then, it has been managed by the not-for-profit organization the Friends of the Christmas Parade founded by the members of the Christmas Parade Committee.

Although Ocala is a relatively small city, its annual Christmas parade is the largest nighttime parade in Florida. The parade features over 100 units including beautifully decorated floats, motorized vehicles, marching bands, performers, costumed characters, and more. The floats traditionally participate in the Christmas Parade Float Contest. The parade starts around 5:30 pm and lasts for about two hours.

Ocala Christmas Parade

Photo by Tyler Gaudioso




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