Thursday, January 18, 2018
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Check out the 2012 Old Fashioned Christmas Parade in Largo

LARGO — When they decided to hold a parade, Paula Hochman and Joseph Stefko didn't know what to expect.

"Last year, we weren't sure if people were really going to show up for the parade or not,'' said Hochman, who works as a makeup artist.

"We just wanted to have a parade, even if it meant jumping in our own cars and driving down the streets,'' said Stefko, owner of the Hair Jungle of Largo.

However, people did show up. In 2011, the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade, coordinated by members of the Old Northwest community organization, had 36 groups participate with thousands of spectators lined up along the parade route in downtown Largo.

And so Hochman and Stefko have decided to do it again. From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, the second annual Old Fashioned Christmas Parade will be held.

The route begins and ends in the parking lot of the Pinellas County Schools building, near the intersection of Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue SW.

During the parade, you can expect to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus, banjo-playing Ragtime Annie in the back of an El Camino, a giant nativity scene on a flatbed truck and an assortment of motorcycles and vintage cars.

"Although I don't have a final list, we've got all sorts of different groups participating again, along with groups like the Kiwanis and the Lions Club. Some were part of the old Largo parade,'' Hochman said.

Through 2008, the city of Largo put on an official city holiday parade, closing a portion of Bay Drive, and for several years it was a success. However, with a shrinking budget, the city decided to end the parade.

"We don't get out on Bay,'' Stefko said. "We want people to be able to walk around and be safe, and when you think about it, the city has done so much work fixing up streets, like Fourth Street SW, it's really perfect for a parade, and it shows off the area.''

The parade also coincides with the city's Holiday Stroll, which begins at 5 p.m. in nearby Largo Central Park.

For the Holiday Stroll, Santa Claus will be in attendance and a toboggan snow slide will be set up for kids of all ages. At 7 p.m., the lighting of the official city Christmas tree will be held.

"We wanted to hold the parade the day of the Holiday Stroll because we hope that people will come in, watch the parade, and before going over to the Central Park event, visit the businesses and restaurants here,'' Stefko said.

There is still time for interested groups to register for the parade. The cost for registering is $50. Proceeds will be donated to BRA Bikers Raising Awareness, a nonprofit breast cancer support group. Visit discoverlargo.com or email [email protected]

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