While many beloved traditions were canceled last year due to the pandemic, we’re thrilled to report that the De Soto Heritage Festival Grand Parade is back! The event was recently approved by city and county officials, and even Mayor Gene Brown is excited!
He was quoted as saying: ““Welcome back, De Soto Grand Parade! We have missed you!”
The parade will be held on Saturday, April 24th. It will step off from Manatee High School at 7:00 pm and will follow its traditional route down 9th Avenue West to 39th Street West and continue on Manatee Avenue to 9th Street West. This year’s theme is “A Salute to Our Healthcare Heros,” inspired to honor our health care workers, the true heroes who have been helping the world fight off the COVID-19 Pandemic. The parade will also feature a large contingent of veterans from our nation’s military.
As usual, you can expect to see beautifully decorated floats and krewes from throughout the Tampa Bay area.
A “Return to Normalcy”
The pandemic has taken a great toll on everyone, from businesses and schools to tourism, the economy, and our families. Mayor Brown believes that launching this event again will bring back a much-needed boost to the community and help our economy. He went on to say “We need to find some ‘normalcy’ in our world.”
With that being said, although the De Soto Grand Festival is back, please be reminded that there is still a pandemic and that everyone is encouraged to follow the health protocols. The Hernando De Soto Historical Society will be distributing approximately 30,000 masks and hand sanitizers to the parade spectators before the start of the De Soto Grand Parade.
According to Mayor Brown, “We have all been looking forward to a family-friendly, outside event and the De Soto organization is taking great measures to ensure the safety of parade participants and spectators. I would like to ask that you try to social distance and/or wear a mask as you enjoy a night out with your family and friends.”
Lynn Horne, Hernando De Soto Society president went on to say: ““We are excited to be able to bring this colorful event to the streets of Bradenton once again, and wish to extend our heartful thanks to our sponsors and the officials of Bradenton, Palmetto, and Manatee County Government for their tireless efforts in working with us to make the parade a safe and enjoyable event for the citizens of Manatee County.”
The De Soto Heritage Festival Grand Parade is one of the oldest and largest parades in Southwest Florida. Thousands of people will flood the streets of Bradenton just to marvel in awe at the beautifully decorated floats and catch a glimpse of the 2020 Hernando DeSoto, Captain, Queen, and Princess. If you’re looking for some outdoor family fun, you’ll definitely want to mark your calendars and head out to enjoy this long-standing Manatee County tradition!