Applications are now open for the Strawberry Youth Parade, and registration for the annual Baby Parade opens the night of Jan. 22.
When the Florida Strawberry Festival comes to town, thousands flock with their loved ones to soak up the sweet event every year.
Some of the annual highlights are in the unique family-themed events held throughout the 11-day affair. This year’s festival runs from Feb. 27 to March 8, so it’s officially time for locals — whether they be families, churches, businesses or organizations — to register to participate in a variety of the festivities.
The Strawberry Youth Parade is always the first Saturday of the festival and will be held this year at 11 a.m. on Feb. 29. The parade will line up at the State Farmers Market as it has for the past several years, then begin its slow trek toward the festival grounds. This is the 47th year the parade has floated through town and applications are now open for those who wish to be a part of the jaunty journey.
“The parade always has a great turnout and involves hundreds of area families and adults who supervise,” Pat Pogue, youth parade chairperson, said in a news release. “This cherished tradition for the communities surrounding eastern Hillsborough County is sure to continue its memory-making fun for years to come. Bystanders along the secured route enjoy watching the marching bands, floats and especially the Florida Strawberry Festival Queen and Court.”
On top of the royal visitors, the ever-smiling Mr. and Ms. Berry from the festival and the abundance of non-profit youth clubs that frequent the route, some of the most creative paraders come from the local schools. Whether its cheering elementary school students waving with the energy only provided by a sugar high from the top of their decorated floats, or the precise and bellowing sounds of local marching bands showing off the fruits of their years of hard work as a unit, the schools bring a fervor to the parade that ensure the route is full of onlookers year after year.
The Strawberry Youth Parade is coordinated by the Strawberry Youth Parade Committee and Pogue has been hard at work visiting local schools and encouraging participants to join the parade once again. The parade departs from the State Farmers Market on the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Alexander Street at 11 a.m. and continues north on Alexander Street and west on Reynolds Street. Then it passes the festival grounds on Reynolds Street and disburse near Sammonds Road area or the floats can disburse at the Farmers Market for the safety of everyone.
For more information about the Strawberry Youth Parade, call Pogue at 813-754-4680 or email email@example.com. For 2020 Youth Parade applications, go to the Florida Strawberry Festival’s website at flstrawberryfestival.com, click on contest rules and scroll to 2020 Strawberry Youth Parade.
This year, there will be winners for Best Club/Group Float (non-professional) with a $100.00 prize, trophy and rosette, a Best Church Float (non-professional) with a $100.00 prize, trophy and rosette, Best Marching Unit with a trophy and rosette and Best Band Entry with a trophy and rosette. Second and third place winners in each category will receive rosettes. The Strawberry Youth Parade Committee will announce the winners in each category right after the parade at the Florida Strawberry Festival Grounds at the awards ceremony at 1 p.m. in the Stingray Chevrolet tent.
Another major festival event for local families is the annual Strawberry Festival Baby Parade. Registration for the 2020 event is from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Arthur Boring Civic Center at the Florida Strawberry Festival Grounds.
This “parade” is hosted each year by the GFWC Plant City Junior Woman’s Club. Entries are $25 and must be in cash. The Baby Parade is held the second Saturday of the Strawberry Festival rain or shine. The contestants gather at the Wish Farms Sound Stage and their parents walk — or in many cases carry — the young paraders.
The contest is open to children ages 1 to 4 and registration is limited to 50 children in each age group. The contestants are judges for “Most Beautiful Girl,” “Most Handsome Boy,” “Best Costume,” “Most Personality” and “Most Beautiful Float.”
Trophies are awarded along with rosette ribbons to the winners in each category and the Baby Parade winners from the prior year participate in the Christmas and Youth parades. All the funds raised from the event are put toward the club’s annual Shoe Project.