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Brooksville Christmas Parade will put an end to rumors of cancellation

BROOKSVILLE — The rumor earlier this year was that Santa Claus wouldn't be coming to town.

The annual Brooksville Christmas Parade had been canceled, the story went.

False, parade organizers say. That was never the case.

The proof comes at 10 a.m. Saturday, when the Brooksville Kiwanis Club's 37th annual Christmas parade steps off on the north side of Brooksville.

"It is surprising how much (the rumor) spread," said event chairwoman Diana Koontz, who is in her second year heading up the event. "This is our largest event and fundraiser, and it will always be our largest."

Despite the rumors, there are nearly 100 entries in this year's parade, which begins along Varsity Drive and continues on Oakwood Drive to Howell Avenue, then travels south down Howell and S Main Street before turning east onto Broad Street and ending at Bell Avenue. The parade is expected to last until about 12:30 p.m.

"The number is a little lower than last year," Koontz acknowledges. "But while we lost a few, we did get about 10 new commercial entries."

Some new participants include the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, whose members will be dressed as Disney and other characters, and also a group from Dragon's Dojo.

And there will be some of the usual favorites, such as high school marching bands, law enforcement, Shriners on motorized vehicles, clowns, horses, dancers and, of course, Santa.

The parade theme is "Treasures Under the Tree," and it will feature two grand marshals — Steve and Barbara Manuel of WWJB-AM 1450 radio.

This year's featured Hometown Hero is Pattie Stepbach, founder of the HeartFELT Foundation — which stands for Feeding Empty Little Tummies. It is a grass roots agency of volunteers who, with donated funds, fill backpacks for local homeless and needy children on weekends.

"(Stepbach) has done a lot of help in the community," Koontz said.

Concessions will be available along the parade route. If the weather is cool, hot chocolate will be available.

"We try to improve the parade every year," Koontz said, adding that there are about 1,000 workers and volunteers helping in the staging area, preparing for the parade.

Koontz also commended Brooksville public works director Richard Radacky for bringing city representatives and groups together to help make Saturday's event run smoothly.

Koontz said the Kiwanis Club is hoping to raise about $15,000 from the event.

One drawback toward reaching that goal — and which may have contributed to the rumor of the parade's demise — is a $3,000 permit fee the club had to pay in order to have the parade. In the past, the city had waived those fees for several public events. Howeer, in a cost-cutting measure, the City Council decided to eliminate the waivers.

"Yes, it hurts," Koontz said, "because 100 percent of what we raise from the parade goes back into the community."

The funds go to Kiwanis events such as the annual Easter egg hunt, the Slip Slidin' into Summer event at Tom Varn Park, scholarships, reading programs and Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.

"I'm appalled by the council's decision," said longtime Kiwanis member Shirl Hammatt, a board member of the organization's Young Children: Priority One service committee. "This is taking away from the children. … I wish they would have thought about what they were doing."

Nonetheless, the parade goes on.

During and after Saturday's annual Brooksville Christmas Parade, visitors downtown can visit the Brooksville Business Alliance's Market on Main Street, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. just south of the parade route, between Broad and Liberty streets, as well as in the city parking lot next to 31 S Main St. Vendors will sell produce, plants and shrubbery, antiques, collectibles, crafts, woodwork, jewelry, candles, baskets, quilts and miscellaneous items.

The market, which is now offered weekly, will include various holiday festivities on Dec. 17. There will be face painting, balloons and a visit from Santa. For details, call Lisa at (352) 848-0090.

There are several other holiday events planned in Hernando County on Saturday.

• The Hernando Historical Museum will offer candlelight Christmas tours of the historic May-Stringer House, which houses the museum, from 6 to 10 p.m. The house, at 601 Museum Court, Brooksville, has been decorated for the Christmas season. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is $5 per person. For information, call (352) 799-0129 or visit hernandohistoricalmuseum.org.

• The Hernando Symphony Orchestra will present the final performance of its holiday concert, "Sounds of the Season," at 7:30 p.m. at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 700 Bell Ave., Brooksville. The concert features the Nature Coast Handbells. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students (kindergarten through Grade 12); season tickets (three shows) are $30. Advance tickets are available at the Stage West Community Playhouse box office, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, or call (352) 683-5113.

• A Santa's Grove Winter Wonderland is being offered weekends now through Dec. 23 at theGrove Events Venue, 8485 Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. The event is from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. It includes face painting, photos with Santa, balloon twisting, a winter hayride, games and Santa's workshop. Admission is $10 for children and $5 for adults; the children's price includes a photo with Santa (adults pay $10 if they want a photo with Santa). Visitors will be treated to complimentary hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, sodas and snow cones. Proceeds benefit the CAUSE Autism Group. Call (352) 610-8485 or visit thegrovevenue.com.

• The Winter Waterland holiday festival will be from 6 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and younger. Call (352) 592-5656. (For more information, see story on today's Diversions page.)

• A Walk Through Bethlehem will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. The event includes a simulation of a marketplace in Jesus' time, a nativity and hands-on activities for children. A live nativity presentation will follow from 8:15 to 9 p.m. The event is free. For information, call (352) 683-2600.

During and after Saturday's annual Brooksville Christmas Parade, visitors downtown can visit the Brooksville Business Alliance's Market on Main Street, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. just south of the parade route, between Broad and Liberty streets, as well as in the city parking lot next to 31 S Main St. Vendors will sell produce, plants and shrubbery, antiques, collectibles, crafts, woodwork, jewelry, candles, baskets, quilts and miscellaneous items.

The market, which is now offered weekly, will include various holiday festivities on Dec. 17. There will be face painting, balloons and a visit from Santa. For details, call Lisa at (352) 848-0090.

There are several other holiday events planned in Hernando County on Saturday.

• The Hernando Historical Museum will offer candlelight Christmas tours of the historic May-Stringer House, which houses the museum, from 6 to 10 p.m. The house, at 601 Museum Court, Brooksville, has been decorated for the Christmas season. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is $5 per person. For information, call (352) 799-0129 or visit hernandohistoricalmuseum.org.

• The Hernando Symphony Orchestra will present the final performance of its holiday concert, "Sounds of the Season," at 7:30 p.m. at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 700 Bell Ave., Brooksville. The concert features the Nature Coast Handbells. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students (kindergarten through Grade 12); season tickets (three shows) are $30. Advance tickets are available at the Stage West Community Playhouse box office, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, or call (352) 683-5113.

• A Santa's Grove Winter Wonderland is being offered weekends now through Dec. 23 at theGrove Events Venue, 8485 Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. The event is from 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. It includes face painting, photos with Santa, balloon twisting, a winter hayride, games and Santa's workshop. Admission is $10 for children and $5 for adults; the children's price includes a photo with Santa (adults pay $10 if they want a photo with Santa). Visitors will be treated to complimentary hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, sodas and snow cones. Proceeds benefit the CAUSE Autism Group. Call (352) 610-8485 or visit thegrovevenue.com.

• The Winter Waterland holiday festival will be from 6 to 10 p.m. today and Saturday at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and younger. Call (352) 592-5656. (For more information, see story on today's Diversions page.)

• A Walk Through Bethlehem will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. The event includes a simulation of a marketplace in Jesus' time, a nativity and hands-on activities for children. A live nativity presentation will follow from 8:15 to 9 p.m. The event is free. For information, call (352) 683-2600.

Brooksville Christmas Parade will put an end to rumors of cancellation 12/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011 7:42pm]
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