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Brooksville parade has fun for all ages

With offerings ranging from the many floats to the free candy and the bands, the city's 28th annual Christmas parade draws crowds.

By DAN DeWITT
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- Sirens could be heard in the distance -- meaning the 28th Annual Brooksville Christmas Parade was just about to get started -- when the Ferrier family revealed their reasons for attending.

"I like the bands, the high school bands," said Janet Ferrier, 54, who was joined by eight members of her family.

Her granddaughter, Devon Perrine, 8, said she liked "the music and the floats."

"Tell the truth," her grandmother said to her.

"I like the candy," Devon said.

Another granddaughter, 13-year-old Amanda Stoddart, said she had graduated beyond the treats thrown from most of the floats.

"I like the boys," she said.

Saturday's parade, as it does most years, attracted big crowds to the route on Howell and Fort Dade avenues. The sky was cloudy, but no rain fell. The air was just cool enough to suit the Christmas season, which really began with the parade.

It was the first of several Christmas-related activities that included:

-- Immediately afterward, Brooksville held its fifth annual Christmas Festival, with arts and crafts booths, games and inflated jumping attractions for children.

-- Saturday night at the courthouse, Hernando County was scheduled to hold its annual tree-lighting festival with entertainment and displays of the lighted floats from the parade. That was to coincide with the Stringer Heritage Museum's Christmas Tour of Yesteryear, in which hundreds of candles are used to light the rooms in the old house.

-- Saturday evening also marked the beginning of Angels on High, the display of lights hosted by the Spring Hill Community Association at their property on Kenlake Avenue in Spring Hill. The more than 50 angels on display will be illuminated every night this week.

But the parade in Brooksville has one thing most other events in the county do not -- tradition. Ferrier said she had been coming every year for nearly a decade.

Other families are just starting to incorporate it into their holiday season.

Misty and Michelle Holtzlander are identical twins who married brothers and both have 1-year-old daughters who watched the parade from beneath a pile of blankets in their side-by-side strollers.

The twins' father, Gene Bratcher -- who, like his daughters and wife, is a Hernando County school bus driver -- said he first came to the parade several years ago when he brought a group of school children there on a field trip.

He encouraged his daughters to bring their daughters, he said, and having them along makes it more fun for the entire family. He said his granddaughters were just old enough to start enjoying the season.

"We put up the Christmas display at the house, and they go and point at this and point at that," Bratcher said.

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