The City of Gainesville Holiday Parade is an opportunity for families, neighborhood groups and businesses from across the city to come together and celebrate the season.
The holiday parade is Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 and leads into the holiday dance party and lights celebration. The procession will start at noon and move along University Avenue from W. 6th St. to 620 E. University Ave.
12 p.m. start - City of Gainesville Holiday Parade
3 p.m. - Bo Diddley Plaza Kids Holiday Dance Party
5:30-8 p.m. - Holiday Lights Celebration in the Thomas Center Gardens, with horse-drawn carriage rides provided by the Duckpond Neighborhood
After dark - Duckpond Neighborhood Association luminaries
Pictures and video
Photos and video will be taken throughout the event. The City of Gainesville will use these images to promote and celebrate the parade on the website, in printed materials, for social media and award applications.
Feel free to take and post your own photos and videos as well! You can tag us at @gainesvillefla on Instagram, @GainesvilleFL on Facebook and @Gainesvillegov on Twitter. Use #GNVHolidayParade to post your photos and see your neighbors’ photos!
There is no vending authorized or permitted at the event staging site, de-staging areas, streets, sidewalks or other event areas.
Know before you go:
- Viewing spots along the parade route are first-come, first-served.
- Be kind and respectful of other attendees, local homeowners and businesses around the parade route.
- Portable restrooms will be available along the route.
- Stay behind the cones on the route and never run out into the parade.
- Parking is available on city streets and garages around the parade route and is on a first-come, first served basis.
- Dress for the weather; the temperature can get cool in early December.
- Bring blankets and chairs for seating.
- We’re so excited you’re interested in participating the first City of Gainesville Holiday Parade!
- Registration opens Monday, Sept. 25 at 8 a.m. and closes at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 10. Fill out the form below.
- There is no fee to participate this inaugural year.
- Take a moment to review this information and fill out the registration form. For the registration form, you will need to provide contact information, the name of your organization and the category and description for your parade entry.
- All walkers or marchers must be at least five years of age.
Detailed timeline for participants
- Sept. 25 – Nov. 10 - Parade entry open registration period
Friday, Nov. 10 – Parade registration deadline
- Monday, Nov. 20 - Commentary form, proof of vehicle insurance, and special placement consideration request due.
- Tuesday, Nov. 28; location TBD - Mandatory entry meeting: This is a mandatory meeting for all entry representatives to review the staging and de-staging plans, receive the City of Gainesville Holiday Parade line-up and any last-minute changes and announcements, as well as to pick up parade packets and parking passes.
Saturday, Dec. 2 - Parade Day
- 7-11 a.m. - Vehicle and float entry check-in & staging: Entry vehicles arrive, check in and stage their entry at the designated location.
- 10 a.m. - Driver meeting: This is a mandatory meeting conducted by the Gainesville Police Department for all float or towing unit drivers to cover specific regulations.
- 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m. - Bands, dance groups, and other participants arrive, check in and stage their entry at their designated place in line.
- Bands, dance groups, and other participants arrive, check in and stage their entry at their designated place in line.
- 12 p.m. - Parade start
Entries should be ready to go at 11:30 a.m. The staging manager will begin to move entries into formation at 11:45 a.m.
NOTE: All applications must include a detailed design plan, sketch, or diagram for review including an estimate of dimensions. Applications will not be considered without this important information. Additionally, these details will be utilized to strategically place entrants in parade queue.
Nothing thrown or handed out
- For safety reasons and to prevent excessive refuse, nothing can be thrown from the floats or handed out by participants. (No candy, toys, confetti, coupons, beads, flyers, etc.).
- Additionally, the use of silly string or poppers is not permitted.
- Entries are approved based on overall show value.
- Use of trailers or more “traditional” float design will be considered first for parade inclusion.
- Optimum float size 6’ x 10’
- Float should not exceed 10 feet in width. (Add-ons that are installed in the staging area and removed at the conclusion of the parade, which result in the float exceeding 10 feet in width only while on the parade route, will be accepted.)
- Including tow unit, floats must not exceed 50 feet in length.
- No entries can exceed 12 feet in height.
- May be towed (tractor or truck/auto) or self-propelled.
- Watchers required – one person per wheel of the vehicle is required.
- Walking units include musical groups, drill teams, dance teams or unique units. Children may participate in the parade, but those under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult or be under adult supervision.
- A walking unit may not have a vehicle following its walkers.
- All walkers must be in costumes or reflect the holiday theme.
- After lineup and prior to parade start, all vehicles and groups will be reviewed for final approval. Parade units will follow instructions from parade staff, parade volunteers and members of the Gainesville Police Department and Gainesville Fire Rescue. If it is determined that your float does not adhere to event guidelines, you may be asked to make alterations or not to participate.
- No Santa Claus replica may be part of any other entry other than the official Santa Claus float at the end of the parade. No drivers or participants may dress like Santa. Anyone dressed as Santa will be asked to leave the parade.
- Santa hats, as a part of other holiday outfits or décor, are permitted.
- Live animals are permitted, but must be approved by City of Gainesville parade organizers.
- City of Gainesville staff has the final approval of all parade entries.
- If any entries are deemed inappropriate for the family / holiday theme, they will be removed from the parade. (Hate-speech, political verbiage, profanity, “scary” images or characters, etc. will not be permitted). The City of Gainesville cannot accept parade participants/floats promoting or including the following:
- Tobacco products
- Illegal drugs
- Explicit sexual material
- Illegal activity
- Political issues
3. Parade staff reserves the right to remove any unit from the line of march for any reason or cause without advance notice.
Politicians and messaging
- Only the name of the politician, and the elected position/title will be permitted on the vehicle/float signage or design.
- Please remember that the event is not a platform for political, religious or social issues, and no unit will be permitted to participate in the parade if, in the judgment of parade staff, it reflects such issues.
Alcohol and smoking
- For the comfort and safety of all participants and attendees, smoking, including vaping and drinking alcoholic beverages in or around the parade is prohibited.
- Parade entries must be in their staging location by 11:30 a.m. and may begin arriving for line up as early as 7 a.m. If you arrive after 11:30 a.m., you may be disqualified and removed from the parade entry list.
Groups must have their number placard on display for officials to approve their entry.
- Only vehicles driving in the parade are allowed to enter the staging area.
- All vehicles must have valid license plates, current registration, inspection and insurance up to date.
- We encourage you to show up with a full tank of gas.
- Vehicles transporting walking groups to the staging area are not permitted in the staging area.
- Use of excessively loud vehicle horns is not permitted.
- Cycles and small, motorized units - Bicycles, motorcycles and mini-cars are accepted.
- Automobiles, trucks and vans - An individual vehicle is not eligible to participate unless it is unique (i.e. recognized classic, antique car, or commercially wrapped vehicles). Trucks are only used to pull floats. Other vehicles may be approved at the directive of parade staff after review of application.
- Weather - For the safety of participants and spectators, if weather or other unforeseen events occur that are out of our control the City of Gainesville reserves the right to cancel.
- Sirens during the parade are not permitted except for use by police/fire vehicles.
- Parade floats which include hay, paper streamers or decorations shall have a minimum of one fire extinguisher affixed to the trailer.
- No flammables or fuel containers are allowed on a parade float or trailer transporting people.
- There shall be no smoking prior to and around a parade float while in movement.
- No fireworks or the like are allowed on a trailer or float.
- If there is a fire extinguisher required, it must be displayed and serviceable.
- We need a cell phone number for one contact person for every parade entry. Make sure your phone is on and charged. (This is in case the committee needs to reach you prior to lineup).
- Parade participants must travel the full length of the parade route, which is approximately one (1) mile long.
- Once your group has completed the parade route, please do not re-enter the parade.
- Once you have begun moving in the parade, please do not stop along the route. The parade is to continue moving without stopping.
- To reiterate, stationary demonstrations, routines or performances are not permitted along the parade route
- All motorized floats, whether self-propelled or pulled by a tow unit, are required to provide Commercial General Liability Insurance general liability insurance with a minimum of $1,000,000 per occurrence and a $2,000,000 general aggregate and Automobile Liability Insurance of $1,000,000 combined single limit for Bodily Injury and Property Damage. The City of Gainesville shall be listed as an additional insured as required by this agreement.
- If the entrant is renting a float from a float company that will supply the tow vehicle, the float company must provide the Certificate of Insurance with the parade requirements outlined above.
- If the entrant is using a commercial towing company, the towing company must provide the Certificate of Insurance with the parade requirements outlined above.
- For personal vehicles, current proof of personal insurance is a required attachment with entry form.