The Junior League of Greater Lakeland and the City of Lakeland hosted the 38th annual Lakeland Christmas Parade. Thank you for your enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of this important community holiday event.
The theme this year was“A Storybook Christmas” and it is our sincere hope that you were able to join us in inspiring the imaginations of children and promoting the joy of reading. Floats were decorated in the theme of every participant’s favorite children’s story. In true holiday spirit, we asked that each float enhanced their story with festive cheer. For example, if the book was Winnie the Pooh oriented, we hoped to see Pooh Bear with a Santa hat and the float still adorned with twinkling lights, a wreath, or some other form of holiday cheer. And Lakeland certainly delivered!
This year, the League was able to pass out 5,000 books to children in the community during the event. Every child who attended left with a book, free of charge, to keep. The book was “The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever” and children were delighted to receive the book. We were even able to give away several copies to local teachers to share with their classes.
Instead of the traditional high-profile community member serving as grand marshal, the league prompted an essay contest, asking students this question: If you were in charge of decorating a float for the Christmas parade, what storybook would you select to inspire your float, why that book and how would you decorate your float?
Laney Kirkpatrick, a 10-year-old student, submitted her response: “I would love to inspire my float with ‘The Ugly Duckling’ story because he is special and he gets made fun of a lot,” she wrote. “I have chosen this book because you can be beautiful just the way you are. It doesn’t matter what others think about you. Being different is hard but really good in other ways.”
Laney, who suffers from hair loss due to unknown reasons, never mentioned her condition in her essay to our judges, who picked her story because of the wonderful themes of being yourself.
“We didn’t know she was writing about herself,” said Chelsea Mullings, the chair for the Christmas Parade. “There were a lot of great essays, and it came down to three (finalists).” But Laney’s stood out from the pack, she said. “We loved it.”
We look forward to providing our community with another wonderful Christmas Parade in 2019.
Questions about the Christmas Parade? Contact us.
Thank you to our exclusive television sponsor Bay News 9/Spectrum!
For your convenience, below is a professional float company that many organizations have used in the past.
Festive Floats of Florida
2102 Orient Road
Tampa, FL 33619
Contact: Chick or Bruce Adams at 813.879.2878 or email them!