The 65th annual Ocala Christmas Parade hits city streets this weekend and residents will have the option to watch the festivities from home.
Marion County Public Schools has announced that they will be broadcasting the parade live on television and YouTube.
The parade kicks off on Saturday, December 11 at 5:30 p.m.
The event is making its return after a cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The parade typically attracts over 60,000 visitors to East Silver Springs Boulevard.
This year’s theme is “A Heroes’ Christmas” and features thousands of riders, marchers, volunteers, dignitaries, and other participants. The theme honors members of the military and first responders following COVID-19, including law enforcement, firefighters, and medical personnel.
Former Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham, who died in a plane crash last year, will also be honored. Graham had spent 25 years as a member of the parade organizing committee.
Ben Marciano, owner of Zone Health & Fitness, is the 2021 Grand Marshal. Marciano was recognized for his volunteering and support of local organizations including Arnette House and United Way, among others.
This year’s parade will include nearly 100 parade units including floats, marching bands, dance troupes, motorcycle units, baton-twirling groups, equine entries, and more.
Local elected officials, members of the military, business owners, dozens of community groups, and Santa Claus will also make an appearance during the parade.
The on-air commentators for the broadcast this year include Kevin Christian (Public Relations Director), Theresa Boston-Ellis (Chief Financial Officer), and Dr. Diane Gullett (Superintendent), all representing Marion County Public Schools.
The parade will be streamed live on the Marion County Public Schools Facebook webpage. It will also air live on the Marion Education Channel (MEC), available on local cable systems including Comcast Channel 99 and Cox Channel 12.
The parade replays will run on MEC through January 2, 2022, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. A video replay of the parade will also be available on YouTube.