Winter festival brings in holiday spirit for residents

In an evening celebrating lights, music and the arts, the City of Tallahassee Your Own Utilities will present the 27th annual Nighttime Holiday Parade during the Tallahassee Winter Festival on Saturday.

The utility department sponsors the parade every year. Sandra Manning, a utilities employee, said the festival is an event for the entire community to enjoy.

“The idea is to promote Tallahassee utilities and to get the entire community to come together,” Manning said. “It shows our appreciation to our utility customers.”

Several events are scheduled to occur prior to the parade from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., including ice-skating, a lighting ceremony, jingle bell run, vendors, arts and crafts and exhibits. The parade will begin at 7:15 p.m., beginning on Monroe and Tennessee streets.

Toni McDonald, parade chairman, said the timing of the parade will enhance the onlookers’ experiences.

“The community can look forward to a lot of floats and lights,” McDonald said. “The benefit of having the parade at night gives us a more mystical and magical feel of Christmas.”

Lauren Pratt, who works for the marketing and public relations sector of Tallahassee Utilities, is this year’s float director. She and Manning said they were very enthusiastic about the parade.

Pratt has been working on the float with help from a number of utility teams such as electric, natural gas, water and sewer.

“Her creativity is amazing,” Manning said. “Although the description of the float will remain a surprise until the event, the guests are in for a real treat.”

Others participating in this year’s parade are Parks and Recreation, the Tallahassee Police Department, local schools, bands and more.

Tremeinko Jones, a senior construction engineering and technology student from Lanett, Ala., said he is excited to see the turnout of the crowd and local businesses coming to support the community. Jones will also be participating in the parade alongside his FedEx co-workers.

“This is my first year participating in the festivities,” Jones said. “I look forward to spending time with my co-workers and their families.”