Pinellas Park to host annual Christmas parade and other holiday festivities

Numerous community organizations participate in the annual Pinellas Park Christmas Parade, which will take place Saturday, Dec. 9 this year.

PINELLAS PARK – As the holiday season approaches, the city is gearing up for one of its biggest annual events – the Pinellas Park Christmas Parade, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

The parade, which draws around 10,000 people each year, will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m. along Park Boulevard. It kicks off at the railroad tracks at 58th Street and travels eastbound on Park Boulevard to The Shoppes at Park Place.

The parade route will be closed to traffic by 4 p.m. that day. The following roads will be closed: eastbound Park Boulevard between 66th Street and U.S. 19, including the overpass; 52nd Street at Park Boulevard; 49th Street between 70th Avenue and Park Boulevard; 43rd Street at Park Boulevard; and 40th Street at Park Boulevard.

With the parade a little over a month away, “we’re still focused on getting folks registered,” said Ricky Butler, operations director of Celebrate Pinellas Park, the group that organizes the annual parade.

The parade typically registers around 120 units, including high school marching bands, car clubs, civic organizations, veterans’ and military groups, dance and performance teams, non-profit organizations, and Gasparilla krewes.

Things are “pretty much status quo,” Butler added, aside from a few rule changes this year.

Anybody distributing beads, candy or other items during the parade must hand them out while walking the route.

“They can’t throw it from a vehicle,” he said. “The last couple of years we were inundated by complaints. No serious injuries, thankfully. But when you have a night parade and have a ton of people throwing beads into a crowd, you can’t really see it coming.”

He warned that if parade participants don’t adhere to the new rule, “the next step is no handouts at all.” Most of the larger parades around the state already don’t permit handouts.

“We were one of the last holdouts,” Butler said. “People really enjoy getting their beads.”

Also, children under 8 years old are not permitted to walk in the parade and must be on a parade float if they’re participating. This is another common practice at other parades, Butler said.

“We’ve had no incidents related to it,” he added. “Just with the volume of people we have, it makes sense. Last year, some of the things we saw made us shake our heads. This is a little bit of a way to get ahead of any potential safety issues.”

Those interested in participating, should visit www.celebratepinellaspark.com for information on registration.

This isn’t the only holiday event this season. The city offers residents numerous ways to celebrate.

Senior Center Thanksgiving Dinner

The Pinellas Park Senior Center, 7625 59th St. N., offers an early Thanksgiving dinner – a home-cooked turkey dinner with all the fixings – Friday, Nov. 17, 5:30 p.m. Cost is $7 per person and attendees must register by Nov. 6.

Harry Potter Yule Ball

Join the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library for a magical evening at its Harry Potter-themed Yule Ball Friday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. This event is open to grades 6 through adults. Costumes are encouraged. Call 727-369-0664 to register.

Holiday in the Park

The 15th annual Holiday in the Park will take place Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at England Brothers Park, 5010 81st Ave. N.

Organized by Pinellas Park Police Explorer Post 912 and the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, this community-wide family event will include children’s games and a train ride, entertainment, photos with Santa, hayrides and more.

Holiday Hayride

The city’s recreation department presents this free, family event Thursday, Dec. 7, 6:30 to 10 p.m., at the Forbes Recreation Center, 6401 94th Ave. N.

Enjoy holiday movies while waiting for your ride. Refreshments will be served after your ride.

Children age 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Advance registration and tickets are required. Call 727-369-5684.

Breakfast with Santa

The Pinellas Park Senior Center, 7625 59th St. N., invites children of all ages and their parents and grandparent to enjoy Breakfast with Santa Saturday, Dec. 9, 9 to 11 a.m.

The breakfast menu includes pancakes, sausage, juice, milk and coffee.

Cost is $5 per person and includes a photo with Santa.

Advance registration is required. Call 727-369-5684.

North Pole Calling

The city offers children in pre-school through third grade the opportunity to receive a phone call from Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or one of Santa’s Elves.

Applications can be picked up at and returned to the Forbes Recreation Center, 6401 94th Ave. N., or Broderick Recreation Center, 6101 66th Ave. N. Deadline for applications is Friday, Dec. 9.

Call 727-369-5678 or 727-369-5684.