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Santa Parade rolls out Saturday

An organizer thinks the downtown procession will be bigger than last year's.

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 4, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right on schedule, Santa Claus will arrive downtown on Saturday.

The city's annual Santa Parade, billed as the 75th, will step off at 10 a.m. from the corner of First Avenue S and First Street.

Nine marching bands and more than 110 other units will move two blocks east, turn north on Bayshore Drive and proceed to the Renaissance Vinoy Resort on Fifth Avenue NE.

"It's actually probably going to be bigger than last year's," said Michelle Simoneau, an organizer for the sponsoring St. Petersburg Lions Club. She said a few groups called at the last minute, asking to be squeezed in.

As usual, Santa will bring up the rear. This year's grand marshal is Tampa Bay Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall. Triple Image, a trio of 12-year-old look-alike singers, will be special guests as "teen mascot grand marshals."

Jugglers, costumed marchers and youth groups will be present, as usual. A featured float will be the U.S. Postal Service's old-fashioned entry, created to mesh with the parade's "Christmas Past" theme.

The theme has appealed to participating groups, Simoneau said. "I think that's why they're coming out in droves."

The Lions Club, which rescued the parade at the last minute last year when a major sponsor couldn't be found, has been involved in the event for more than 72 years, making it among the oldest original participants, Simoneau said.

Time Warner Cable will televise the parade.

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