Holiday revelers kick off season with pair of parades

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Christmas season got off to a damp and cool, but spirited start Saturday with parades bringing out holiday revelers young and old to view the floats, bands and marchers from Vero Beach and Sebastian.

The 27th annual Vero Beach Parade drew 54 entries, including the appearance of Santa Claus on a vintage fire truck made possible by Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. Santa received help along the way from St. Helen Catholic School, which was named most spirited, and the 4-H of Indian River County, which won in the category of most creative.

Rosewood Magnet school, with its Candy Land-themed float, was named best in show. The Oceanside Business Association sponsored the event.

The parade route was lined with families and friends watching bands, floats, police and fire vehicles, vintage cars, a boat, even a clown dressed for the holiday. Children along Ocean Drive were treated to sweets from the marchers who warmed the crowed with plenty of good cheer.

The holiday spirit was just as evident in Sebastian, where Santa arrived in style courtesy of the GFWC Sebastian Women’s Club during the Sebastian Christmas Parade. His other half, Mrs. Claus, kicked off the parade at the front of the route.

They were escorted to Santa’s house at Riverview Park by a band playing traditional holiday tunes, which continued to play as Santa greeted the children of Sebastian and north county.

Smaller than usual crowds lined Indian River Drive from Main Street to Harrison Street waiting to see Santa and other festive groups who passed out candy, coupons and other treats.

Even though the rain cleared up before the parade, some organizations opted to drop out of the parade, according to parade officials.

One parade watcher said Indian River Drive is normally packed with residents trying to catch a glimpse of the floats. However, this year, there were noticeable gaps between parade-goers, who had bundled up in hooded sweatshirts, gloves and blankets.

The City of Sebastian, the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sebastian Property Owners’ Association helped sponsor the parade.

The Sebastian Property Owners’ Association collected more than 1,000 toys prior to the parade so Santa Claus could get a start on his holiday deliveries.

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