While the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York kicks off the holiday season across the country, most only get to watch the spectacle on television. In Pasco County, residents will have several chances to line the roadways and get into the Christmas spirit. Several parades are scheduled, starting with a nighttime parade in Dade City on Dec. 2. Then, on Dec. 3, there will be parades in New Port Richey, Hudson and Zephyrhills.
Festivities begin with the Magical Night Christmas Parade at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 through downtown Dade City. Arrive early to watch as the parade travels down Seventh Street. It will feature a variety of floats, entertainment acts, bands, seasonal displays and, of course, Santa Claus. There will also be the annual Christmas tree lighting on the courthouse lawn.
East Pasco will have another parade Dec. 3 at Main Street Zephyrhills' Festival of Lights, which will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. throughout downtown Zephryhills. The holiday event will feature children's activities and live music, with the highlight being the lighted parade, which starts at 6 p.m.
In west Pasco on Dec. 3, families will have a chance to see two parades. The first will be the Hudson Christmas Parade, which begins at 2 p.m. at Hudson Middle School and ends at Hudson First Baptist Church. The parade will feature bands, floats, classic cars, horses and motorcycles. Then, as the sun goes down, the nighttime River Lights Boat Parade will launch at 6:30 p.m. in New Port Richey, featuring brightly lit boats and other watercraft cruising down the Pithlachascotee River to Sims Park.
The boat parade is part of the Main Street New Port Richey Festival on Dec. 2 and 3. The festival will kick off at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 with the lighting of the New Port Richey Christmas tree and the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce's holiday cards. Visitors can then take a walk around Orange Lake to watch a free movie in Sims Park at 7 p.m., where there will be arts and craft vendors, as well as food vendors. There will also be an art show and holiday festivities — including an appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus — at the nearby New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center. The festival resumes at noon Dec. 3, with festivities that will include live entertainment throughout the day, as well as food, arts and crafts.
For information about the Main Street New Port Richey Festival and River Lights Boat Parade, visit nprmainstreet.com or call (727) 842-8066. For details on the Dade City parade, visit dadecitychamber.org or call (352) 567-3769. For the Hudson parade, call (828) 728-8272 or visit hudsonrec.org. For the Zephyrhills event, call (813) 780-1414.
Other upcoming holiday events include:
Experience Bethlehem: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2 to 5, Hope United Methodist Church, 2200 Little Road, Trinity. Each year, more than 300 volunteers build and inhabit a replica of Bethlehem for four consecutive nights. Visitors are encouraged to bring a canned good as their "tax" to be paid to the Romans who control the city, then take a walk through the city, where they will encounter shopkeepers, dancers, soldiers and those living in and visiting the city during a census. After journeying through the city, visitors will encounter shepherds, angels, the three kings, the innkeeper, live animals and finally the manger where Christ was born.
Holiday Card Lane: 6 p.m. Dec. 2, Orange Lake at Sims Park, 6431 Circle Blvd., New Port Richey. There will be a lighting ceremony, featuring about 100 life-size holiday cards around the lake. The cards will remain on display through Jan. 11. (727) 842-7651. westpasco.com.
10th annual Lake Jovita Reindeer Run: Dec. 3, Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club, 12900 Lake Jovita Blvd., Dade City. Registration is at 7 a.m., and the run/walk at 8 a.m. There will be music and snacks at the end of the race. Medals will be awarded for the top winners in each age category. Costumes are encouraged; the best costume will win a prize. $40 registration fee. Proceeds benefit the Sunrise of Pasco Domestic & Sexual Violence Center. Contact Kelly Sinn, (352) 521-3358 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Active.com.
Christmas with the Marlins: 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3, Pasco-Hernando State College West Campus, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. PHSC kicks off its Performing Arts Series with a concert by the Marlins, featuring a blend of classic holiday favorites with hit songs from multiple eras. $25 to $30. (727) 816-3707. phsc.edu.
'A Pasco Christmas': 8 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. The musical is geared for all ages. Tickets are $18. (727) 842-6777. richeysuncoasttheatre.com.
Breakfast with Santa: 9 to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 3, Hope Lutheran Church, 12321 Canton Ave., Hudson. Children ages 10 and younger, along with their parents, are invited for breakfast, games, crafts and a visit from Santa. Free, but reservations required. (727) 863-6446.
Cookie walk and Christmas bazaar: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3, Community Congregational Church, 6533 Circle Blvd., New Port Richey. Lunch will be available. There will be cookies, cakes, breads, candies, jams and jellies, along with gifts available for purchase. Hosted by the Women's Fellowship. (727) 849-1943.
Christmas holiday bazaar: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 3, Harvester United Methodist Church, 2432 Collier Parkway, Land O'Lakes. Hosted by Family-Friendly Tampa Bay, the event will include photos with Santa, a bounce house village, games, food trucks, holiday shopping, giveaways and numerous resources for families affected by autism and other special needs. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Learning Your Function Inc., which provides programs and resources for adults with autism and other disabilities. Admission and activities are free. (813) 331-5579. familyfriendlytampabay.com/christmas-holiday-bazaar-to-help-lyf-inc.
Holiday horn quartet: 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Hudson Regional Library, 8012 Library Road, Hudson. Enjoy the sounds of the holidays. Free. (727) 861-3040.
Christmas Tour of Homes: 4 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3, Vintage Chickabees, 6213 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. The self-guided tour of festively decorated west Pasco homes will include food samples and music by local performers. Advance tickets are $15 (available at several locations) and $16.50 (online); $18 on the day of the event. (727) 514-5220. ggmfl.com.
'The Gift of the Magi': 8 p.m. Dec. 3, 3 p.m. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10, and 3 p.m. Dec. 11, Dreamhouse Theatre, 1840 Oak Grove Blvd., Lutz. Join Della and Jim in their New York tenement flat on Christmas Eve 1905 as they teach about love and the true spirit of giving in this musical Christmas show. Purchase tickets online for $20.86 each. (813) 997-7146. dreamhousetheatre.com.
Richey Concert Band: 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4, River Ridge High School, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. The band, under the direction of Henry Fletcher, presents its annual Christmas concert, featuring Christmas favorites, as well as a Hanukkah medley. The Suncoast Bronze Ringers hand bells will also perform. Free. (727) 842-9177, (727) 842-7502.
Founders Garden Club hosts 'Christmas in the Park': 7 p.m. Dec. 4, San Antonio City Park, 32810 Pennsylvania Ave., San Antonio. Christmas cards will be lit, and there will be entertainment, featuring a sing-along for the children, accompanied by Dennis Devine. The Sweet Adelines Ladybug Quartet will perform. Raffle tickets are available for $1 each or six for $5. Complimentary refreshments and coffee will be served. (352) 588-3631.
32nd annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration: Noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 4, Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, 7050 Gall Blvd., Zephyrhills. The free event will feature more than 53 decorated trees, Santa, bounce houses, a parade of golf carts and performances by the FHZ Chorale and the East Pasco Adventist Academy Bell Choir. Refreshments will be available for purchase. Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Fireworks conclude the program.
Wilderness Wonderland Celebration of Lights: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 to 11 and 15 to 18, Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey. Drive through a display of dancing lights coordinated to festive holiday music. $2 entry fee per vehicle.
Walk Through Bethlehem: 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10 and 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11, Richland Baptist Church, 40443 Stewart Road, Zephyrhills. Volunteers transform a patch of land near the church — roughly a third of the size of the ancient city of Bethlehem — into a city that feels like it is part of the first-century town where Jesus was born. Those taking the walk will be guided through the reconstructed city, where they will see a census taker, city people of all ages, shopkeepers and Roman guards in period costume.
Breakfast with Santa: 10:30 a.m. to noon Dec. 9, Land O'Lakes Library, 2818 Collier Parkway, Land O'Lakes. There will be crafts, food and stories, as well as a visit from Santa. Bring a camera. All ages welcome. Free. (813) 929-1214.
How the Grinch Saved Christmas: 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 9, Spartan Manor, 6121 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey. This event, created by the West Pasco Business Association, will include music by Jule Vera as guests enjoy a variety of food, sweets and treats, along with a cash bar. Contests include Ugliest Holiday Sweater, Best Holiday Sox and Grinch/Whoville Look-Alike, and there will be auctions, raffles and other activities. $45. (727) 934-0940.
Santa Visit: 11 a.m. to noon Dec. 10, Hugh Embry Library, 14215 Fourth St., Dade City. Bring a camera and have a picture taken with Santa. Free. (352) 567-3576.
West Pasco Chamber of Commerce New Port Richey Holiday Street Parade and Holiday Festival: Dec. 10 in downtown New Port Richey. The festival will kick off with pictures with Santa from 3 to 5 p.m. at the gazebo in Sims Park, provided by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce. Santa will have complimentary gifts and face painting for children. The parade will start at 6 p.m. (727) 842-7651. westpasco.com.
Country Christmas Open House: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 10, Pioneer Florida Museum and Village, 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, Dade City. Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, listen to live music, see the train show in the Mable Jordan Barn, and enjoy the museum and all of its exhibits. Free admission with a new unwrapped toy. (352) 567-0262. pioneerfloridamuseum.org.
Central Pasco & Gulf Railroad's Holiday Express Train to Santa's Cabin: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18, Crews Lake Wilderness Park, 16739 Crews Lake Drive, Shady Hills. Unlimited train rides. Bring a camera to take pictures with Santa. Admission is $6 per person. $2 parking fee.
32nd annual Christmas Stroll, 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10 in downtown Dade City.
Dade City Symphony's 'Home for the Holidays' Christmas concert: 7 p.m. Dec. 17, Pasco Middle School Auditorium, 13925 14th Ave., Dade City. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Church Street Christmas: 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 21 to 23 in Dade City. The city's historic Church Avenue comes alive as carolers, choirs, dancers and musicians perform along luminary-lit sidewalks and decorated homes.