BROOKSVILLE — For a time this year, the future of the Christmas parade appeared in doubt after the main sponsor, the city of Brooksville, pared its budget for civic events.
But the secondary sponsor, the Brooksville Kiwanis Club, has filled the void, and so the 34th edition of the parade will step off on Dec. 13.
"We're going to see that the parade goes on as usual," club pub licist Karen Beasley said this week.
The parade will form at 10 a.m. at Hernando High School and proceed west on Oakwood Drive, south on Howell Avenue and Main Street, then east on Broad Street, ending at Bell Avenue.
"We're having to pay a bunch of money, but we do it for the benefit of the community,'' Beaseley said. "We've anticipated this coming. It started last year. We've been prepared. There are other ways to cut back on costs."
For instance, the club is saving some $100 in postage, instead of mailing out applications, by asking parade participants to register online at its Web site, www.kiwanisclubofbrooksville.org.
Kiwanis International is paying the club's parade permit fees.
Nonetheless, the event will tap some $7,000 to $8,000 from the club, said president Ron Wheeles.
The greatest cost is for printed programs, which will be distributed to each of some 2,000 estimated participants and some 10,000 attendees, said Beasley.
Wheeles guessed there will be 15,000 parade watchers. He expects much of the printing cost will be offset by advertisements in the program.
Also, said Wheeles, "We paid the city $1,000 last time (for security and police guards at street crossings). We're hoping it will be about the same this year."
In addition, the club's tab will include the cost of televising the parade on the county government channel.
Kiwanis parade chairman Robert Watts anticipates 120-130 floats plus fire/rescue units, Brooksville police, sheriff's deputies and mounted posse, Florida Highway Patrol, church groups, veterans organizations, Shriners, Scout groups, clubs and civic organizations along with all the high school bands and color guards.
Marchers will decorate and dress to the theme, "Christmas Around the World," and will be judged on adherence to the theme, creativity and craftsmanship. They already are at work on their entries, Watts said.
Local restaurateur "Papa Joe'' Giarrtana will serve as parade grand marshal, accompanied by his wife, Donna.
It is hoped that the 2008 Great Brooksvillian, Dr. Paul Farmer, will arrive via a fly-in from Haiti, in time to join the parade. He is scheduled to speak in the afternoon from the City Hall steps for a fundraiser, Partners in Health, to which Kiwanis contributes.
While the city last year canceled its parade follow-up festival, the First Baptist Church, Broad Avenue and Howell Street, will have games and activities for children after the parade.
Although organizers don't expect the economy to affect parade participation, Beasley said, "In this economy, this may be one of the biggest things the kids get to enjoy for the Christmas season."
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.