The 66th annual Ocala Christmas Parade will return this weekend and residents will have the option to watch the festivities from home.
The parade will take place on Saturday, December 10, and Marion County Public Schools will begin broadcasting the event on television and YouTube at 5:30 p.m.
The event typically draws over 60,000 spectators to E Silver Springs Boulevard, and many individuals in the crowd claim their seats along the two-mile parade route several days in advance.
The theme for this weekend’s parade is “Hometown Christmas,” and it will feature thousands of riders, marchers, volunteers, dignitaries, and other participants. This year’s theme honors military members and first responders including law enforcement, firefighters, and medical personnel.
George Mathis, an Ocala small business owner, was chosen to serve as the parade’s grand marshal due to his outstanding record of giving back to the local community, according to the Friends of the Christmas Parade. His family has organized many charitable events, including his annual Bicycle roundup for underprivileged children, and he has hosted multiple events to help first responders and youth sports.
Nearly 100 parade units will take part in the event including floats, marching bands, dance troupes, baton twirling groups, motorcycle units, and equine entries, among others. The lineup will also include local elected officials, military units, business owners, dozens of other community groups, and Santa Claus.
The on-air commentators for this year’s broadcast of the parade will include three individuals representing MCPS: Public Relations Director Kevin Christian, Chief Financial Officer Theresa Boston-Ellis, and Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett.
The parade will be streamed live on the MCPS YouTube channel. It will also air live on the Marion Education Channel (MEC), as well as on local cable systems including Comcast (Channel 99) and Cox (Channel 12).
The parade replays will run on the Marion Education Channel through January 1, 2023, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
These broadcasts are offered as a community service by Marion County Public Schools. The Ocala Christmas Parade is organized by the Friends of the Christmas Parade, a nonprofit organization that is made up of community volunteers.
For more information, contact the MCPS Public Relations Office at 352-671-7555.