Annual Myakka Country Christmas Parade celebrates the community's roots.
Although the 24th annual Myakka Country Christmas Parade on Dec. 7 serves as somewhat of a history lesson for children, that doesn’t mean the kids won’t have a lot of fun.
“It’s another tradition of rural life that we’re trying to grow, expand and continue, so that our children grow up knowing where they come from,” said Bonnie Carlton, a member of the Myakka City Historical Society, which partners with the Myakka City Community Center to present the event. “We help teach our children about roots, tradition, what that means in our life and that it’s very important to the families out here.”
Laughter is part of the tradition.
“I love to watch the kids,” Carlton said. “They get so into it, and they just have so much fun. They all take their shoes off, and you end up with barefooted hot, sweaty young’uns.”
The parade will include about 30 floats made by local churches, community organizations and the Myakka City Elementary School. The Hernando De Soto Historical Society will also have a float in this year’s parade; the De Soto queen is Myakka City’s Langston Sellars.
Lakewood Ranch High School’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps will be among those marching in the parade.
When the parade ends, the party is just warming up as everyone heads to the Community Center and the Myakka City Historic School House for food, games and festivities.
The Myakka City Historic School House has been undergoing extensive renovations this year, and the Myakka City Historical Society received a one-day use permit, so the auditorium could be used. The actual reopening of the Myakka City Historic School House will be held at a later date.
Among the free event’s festivities will be games, such as tug of war and cornhole; a chili cook-off; a beautiful baby contest; and a whip-cracking contest.
“This is a communitywide celebration for the kids to be able to just get together and have some fun and watch a parade,” Carlton said.
Pepper Sellars, the executive director of the Myakka City Community Center, said the event gives people a chance to take a break from their busy lives to appreciate their community.
Marilyn Coker, a past president of the Myakka City Historical Society, said the event is a time for friends and families to gather every year and celebrate the community.
“You get to see friends you haven’t seen in probably a year, since the last parade,” she said. “We’re an agricultural community where people don’t live close together, so we have friends scattered all over the 250 square miles.”
Carlton said the day is an opportunity to “honor our past and to look to the future.”
The future will feature the completed Myakka City Historic School House.
“I’m excited for everybody to see what it’s really going to look like,” Coker said. “It’s going to be a really nice place for us to have community activities. We plan to put up a big Christmas tree in there, and we’ll have some music, and children’s groups will be performing.”