City preparing for Light Up Ocala on Nov 23

The city of Ocala has been steadily making preparations for next week’s Light Up Ocala event.

The event, which will take place in downtown Ocala on Saturday, November 23, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., will feature a variety of activities including the annual tree lighting ceremony, which will take place at 6:30 p.m.

Holiday decorations at Ocala Downtown Square
Holiday decorations at Ocala Downtown Square are going up in anticipation of next week’s 2019 Light Up Ocala event

The theme for the 2019 Light Up Ocala is “A Twinkling Tradition.” The event will feature two stages, three entertainment zones, and more than 100 vendors, as well as live music, dance groups, street performers, a Whoville section, a Santa’s Village, food, and crafts.

At 4:30 p.m., the Junior Sunshine Parade will begin at the corner of S Magnolia Avenue and E Fort King Street. The parade will make its way through downtown, going past the gazebo, up to NE First Street, then returning to SE First Avenue and E Fort King Street. The parade will include performances from local dance studios, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Troops, Cub Scout Packs, a marching band and a special appearance by Santa.

Free shuttle rides will be available for guests throughout the event. The first shuttle will pick up guests at the Marion Technical Institute parking lot, 1614 SE Fort King St., and will drop guests off at the intersection of SE Osceola Avenue and SE Third Street. This shuttle will run approximately every 20 minutes between 3:45 and 9:30 p.m. The second shuttle will pick up guests at the Reilly Arts Center and will drop guests off at the intersection of NE Watula Avenue and State Road 40. This shuttle will run approximately every 10 minutes between 3:45 and 9:30 p.m.

Free parking is available in the downtown parking garage located at 296 SE Broadway St. throughout the event, as well as the County Courthouse parking garage located at 110 NW First Ave. from 3 to 10 p.m. In addition to the event festivities, the Paddock Mall is hosting a gingerbread house competition.

Gingerbread kits can be purchased at Michaels Craft Store located at Gaitway Plaza. Entries must be dropped off the day of the event by 1 p.m. at the Paddock Mall event tent located at Citizens’ Circle, located SE Osceola Avenue. The winner will receive a $100 gift card to a Paddock Mall store of their choice or a catered lunch by Chick-fil-A for up to 10 people. If you are interested in participating, please contact the Paddock Mall Management Office at 352-237-1223.

Check out the complete schedule released by the city of Ocala for this year’s event:

• Stage One – Sponsored by Ocala Health
o Downtown Square – SE Broadway and Magnolia Avenue
o Opening performance by Ocala Civic Theater’s “CAST” group
o Live Music by Audio Exchange – back by popular demand!
o Photo opportunities at the holiday tree

• Stage Two – Sponsored by Advent Health
o Citizens’ Circle – Fort King Street and Osceola Avenue
o Photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus
o Live Music by Robert France (4-5 p.m.) and Swing Theory (7:30 – 9 p.m.)
o Variety of local dance and performance groups (5 – 7:30 p.m.)
o Punch & Judy street shows (corner of Osceola Avenue and Broadway)

• North Entertainment Zone – Sponsored by Insight Credit Union
o North Lot – Corner of NE First Street and NE First Avenue
o Performances by Jiggleman, Santa Cirque and the Power Skippers
o Interactive Living Angels and Toy Soldiers
o Bounce houses for the kids

• Whoville – Sponsored by Wawa
o Fort King Street between Magnolia and SE First Avenue
o Visit the Grinch and Whos of Whoville
o Photo opportunities inside the giant inflatable snow globe
o Movie screening of the 2000 live action version of “The Grinch” on the inflatable outdoor screen

For more information, please contact the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department at 352-368-5517.