Thousands of people packed Downtown Plant City Fri., Dec. 1 to watch the 2023 Plant City Christmas Parade. Empty chairs lined the parade route hours before the event started as eager viewers vied for a front-row seat to watch the spectacle.
Dozens of floats, marching bands and city leaders participated in the event, all decked out in their best holiday attire and tossing throws to parade goers’ outstretched hands, from light sticks and beads to candy and trinkets.
Parade Board Member Dodie White said it may have been the largest crowd ever. “I’m not good at estimating crowd numbers but in our area alone the crowds were 20 deep in all directions and I was told by others that it was the same from the beginning of the parade all the way to the end of the parade,” she said.
A panel of three independent judges was tasked with voting for the best parade entries, a difficult task because of the high caliber of contestants. “The parade was absolutely fabulous, it was hard to tell the homemade floats from the professional floats because everyone took pride in their entries,” said White.
The entries winning this year, who will be recognized Mon., Dec. 11 at the Willaford Train Museum, include:
Best Marching Unit: Marshall Middle School Band
Best School: Newsome High School FFA
Best Church/Religious: First Baptist Church of Dover
Best Business: Hillsborough County Public Schools Transportation
Best Overall: Tyndall Christian Academy
For White, the parade is just one example of what a community can accomplish when it comes together. “We are so blessed to live in Plant City, where we receive the support from our local government, police department, fire rescue department and county and state law enforcement agencies,” she said. “Without them, we could not host an event of this magnitude.”