What's more festive than a parade? Catch Santa Claus in Plant City's annual parade or head to a less traditional procession of golf carts or boats.
Plant City Christmas Parade, today, 6 p.m.
The 26th annual Christmas Parade starts at Collins and Alsobrook streets, heads north on Collins and east on Reynolds Street to the courthouse on Michigan Avenue. The parade often draws 100 entries, and Santa Claus always enters in a unique way. Check the weather before you go because the temperature drops after the sun sets.
Sun City Center's Holiday Golf Cart Parade, Dec. 12, 10:30 a.m.
This annual parade of festive golf carts starts on La Jolla Avenue, turns right on Cherry Hills Drive and ends at the gazebo on the Central Campus. Singers and a bluegrass band will entertain at several spots along the route, and refreshments will be served.
Apollo Beach Lighted Boat Parade, Dec. 12, 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Decorated boats will take off from the south channel, near the tip of Adalucia, and wind through the channels, ending at Symphony Isles. The best place to watch is from a house on the channel, although visitors may find viewing spots on a few empty lots.
Twinkle, twinkle! Rising power bills? No worries. It's time for the annual massive gift to electric companies. Feast your eyes on holiday lights. Thousands of them.
A 1-acre winter wonderland walk-through in the heart of Dover. It's a family tradition carried on by hundreds of volunteers. Christmas Lane is located on 2015 Wooten Road, just off Dover Road. It's open now through Dec. 30, weather permitting, from 6 to 10 p.m. Expect a train ride for the kids, hot chocolate and Santa! Jolly Ole' Saint Nick will make appearances Dec. 11 through Dec. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m., and Dec. 24 from 7 to 8 p.m. Visit christmaslane.org.
For more than 20 years, residents in this Brandon subdivision near Lumsden and John Moore roads have decorated their homes. Now the holiday cheer is shared by all, with thousands of cars that come through the neighborhood. The display will be open to the public from Dec. 11 to Dec. 27, from 6 to 11 p.m. On Dec. 25, 26 and 27, gates to the subdivision will be open until 12:30 a.m.
Whether you'd like to be a volunteer or you're in need of a helping hand, local charities have plenty to offer.
Cynthia Pinckney Ministries' community dinner, Dec. 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For almost a decade, Cynthia Pinckney has been feeding the hungry in eastern Hillsborough County through her ministry, which holds monthly outreach dinners. In December, that means a Christmas Day meal for anyone who shows up to the Boys & Girls Club, 213 N Knights Ave., Brandon. The ministry could use donations of clothes, shoes, blankets and toiletries to hand out at the dinner. Interested in volunteering or donating? Call Pinckney at (813) 571-1556.
Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO)
ECHO provides 10,000 needy people a year with food and clothing, and the holiday season is the group's busiest time of the year. It needs food, toys, gift cards for teens and gently used blankets and coats. Donations can be made from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at 507 N Parsons Ave., Brandon. To give cash, go to echofl.org. Those in need of help can call ECHO at (813) 685-0935.
Make room Santa, Christmas is Jesus' big debut. See the babe in a manager at live Nativity productions. But get there early, crowds are almost certain.
Walk Through Bethlehem, Kings Avenue Baptist Church, Dec. 10-13, hours vary each day
It takes about 400 people to stage the live Nativity at Kings Avenue Baptist Church in Brandon. Park your car, get a tour ticket — each tour group accommodates 10 to 12 people — and prepare to be dazzled by the production, now in its 23rd year. It will feature baby Jesus, camels, donkeys, sheep, wise men and more. Last year, 7,000 people viewed the free production on the church grounds at 2602 S Kings Ave., Brandon. For more information, visit kingsavenue.org or call (813) 685-3095.
Drive-Through Nativity, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Dec. 11-13, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
From the comfort of your car, hear an angelic choir sing of the Christ child. Keep driving and gaze upon the babe and his doting parents. The free event at 818 N Parsons Ave., will feature approximately 185 volunteers. For more information, contact the church at (813) 689-3325.