DeSoto Grand Parade Takes Place Saturday
The Desoto Grand Parade takes place on Saturday. It is a favorite among locals, especially after the month long Heritage Festival celebration leading up to this festive event. Come out and be part of the fun!
The Hernando de Soto Historical Society, a local non-profit, is made up of about 225 Conquistadors (their volunteers). They celebrate and bring awareness of the historical significance of the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s landing near the mouth of the Manatee River in May 1539.
The DeSoto Grand Parade is Manatee County’s largest parade and the State of Florida’s 2nd largest parade, second only to Tampa’s Gasparilla’s Parade of Pirates. It is estimated that about 200,000 people watch this parade each year! Crewe members (volunteers) have beads and coins which are handed, not tossed to parade goers as it’s much safer. Fun fact: these crewe members actually buy their own boxes of beads each year! They also walk alongside the floats rather than ride in them. Another fun fact is that people line the street days or weeks in advance. They have already started lining the street with chairs to save there spot! Only in the “Friendly City” can that happen!
This week the final celebrations take place. The DeSoto Queen’s Court is selected on April 25th. There is a celebratory ball and the new queen and princesses are crowned on April 27th. Runners will compete in a 5k run on Manatee Ave immediately preceding the parade. This is a unique opportunity to have a whole cheering squad! The Grand Parade begins at 6:30pm on Saturday night. The illuminated parade starts at Manatee High School and continues east down Manatee Ave ending in downtown Bradenton. Fans of the parade typically line the streets earlier in the day, so get there early to get the best view possible!