One of our biggest and most popular holiday traditions is the Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade. There is something so unique about this parade. Maybe the huge pirate ship is normal; after all, the parade is organized by the AMI Privateers. It may also be that the temperature is about 75-80 degrees so shorts and flip flops are normal. If these don’t peak your interest, then it must be all the local businesses, residents and visitors (yes, visitors) participating in the long line of vehicles, floats and boats parading from one of the island to the other end.
Everyone else lines the main streets of Anna Maria Island in hopes of catching a slew of beaded necklaces and candy thrown as the parade goes by. Residents open their lawns as guests claim their spots to enjoy the festivities and wave at Santa Claus!
The History of the Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade
In 1984, another island organization was unable to host the annual Santa event due to unforeseen circumstances. The AMI Privateers took over the task of hosting Santa at his annual stop on the island. They created an unforgettable event at the Foodway Grocery complete with Santa seeing all the kids to get their Christmas wishes. After a couple of years, they turned the event into a monumental occasion and created the Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade that concluded with a party where Santa has hot dogs, drinks and a present for each child.
Here are the details of the parade. This year’s parade is set for December 10, 2016. It starts at about 10am at Bayfront Park and goes all the way to the Coquina Beach parking lot. At that point, there is a huge party with Santa Claus where kids can talk to him about what they want.
For those who want to watch the parade catching beads and candy, simply find a spot along the main roads of Anna Maria Island – Pine Avenue, Gulf Drive, Palm and Marina Drives then back on Gulf Drive. Bring a drink (any kind will do) and a chair so you can get comfortable.
If you want to be in the parade, there are specific details from the Privateers as well as an application for the Anna Maria Island Christmas Parade. There is no fee to participate so take some time and cash to get candy and beads to throw out to the crowds – lots of beads and even more candy. You also need to have your decorated vehicle ready to go at 9:30 from Bayfront Park.
Anna Maria Island Privateers
Established in 1971, the Anna Maria Island Privateers is a nonprofit organization supporting Manatee County and Anna Maria Island youth programs. As a result of their hard work, the Privateers fund youth organizations and provide scholarships for area children and teens. From mullet smokes to business captures to other events, they are a well-known island fixture. Other major events include the 4th of July and Snooks Adams Kids Day. Membership is open to all! Click here to out more information about becoming a Privateer.
Make Plans for the Christmas Parade
As we said above, the parade starts at 10am at Bayfront Park on December 10, 2016. Don’t miss out on the fun and the best way to get in the Christmas spirit – island style!