Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Pensacola Christmas Parade

“Do you know they are expecting over fifty thousand people??” my friend asked me over the phone. I had suggested we meet up. “I didn’t know there were fifty thousand people in Pensacola!”

She was going, but we probably would not see one another. My son and his family were meeting me at the church and we would watch together.

I have never seen a Christmas parade like it in my life. For one thing, the weather is perfect. It is cool enough for long sleeves, even a sweater, some Pensacolans were all bundled up. No rain – I understand last year the parade was rained out. No snow – it’s been really cold all week, and it’s going to be cold again tomorrow, but today – and tonight – were perfect.

“Where will we meet?” my son asked when he called.

“I’m leaving now; meet on the steps of the church” I answered. “See you there.”

* * * *

“I’m here, but not on the steps, across the street, under the tree right in front of the school” I left a message.”

“Mom! Where are you?”

“I’m by the school under a tree – wait, I can see you, I’m waving, I’m waving!” and finally he saw me, and we all had our little space.

It was a great space for viewing the parade. A great place for a little 9 month old Happy Baby, who loved the sirens and the police and the flashing lights, and the bark on the tree. He had a ball, and then he was tired.

Here is what is hilarious. It was not a great place for parade activity. I’ve never seen a parade like this, but this is very Pensacola, or so I’ve been told. First, this is the least ‘politically correct’ parade ever. It was wonderful! Floats full of Marys and Josephs and little baby Jesus, and shepherds and angels, marching evangelists carrying bible verses – LLOOLLL, a big thumb of the nose at secularity. This town celebrates the Nativity!

The Holy Bible Float:

The sign-carrying evangelists:

The Krewe of Pompeii Float (Krewes are local social groups that form to celebrate Mardi Gras)

Krewe of YaYas Float:

Did you notice something in all those photos? Did you notice all the hands up?

Did you see all those hands up? It took me a while, but I finally figured it out, all these people want beads! And Santas are throwing beads, and angels are throwing beads, and the Blue Angels are throwing beads, and . . . Joseph and Mary are throwing beads!

I had made a strategic mistake! The woman next to me had 15 or 20 beads, all kinds and all colors, and I was busy taking photos, and I had none. I then also noticed that I was under a tree, and the tree was catching beads that should have been mine!

Time to get serious. I put the camera away and started waving with the rest.

My treasures:

Big Wooo HOOO on me; every kid in Pensacola has like seven hundred beads, but I have my start, I have two! LLOOLL, next parade, I have my priorities. No more photos. Beads!

If you want to have a really good time, come to Pensacola for one of the liveliest and most fun parades I have ever attended.

December 12, 2010 - Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Florida, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather


  1. Wow–what a cool tradition!

    Comment by momcat | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Oh, Momcat, it was so much fun. You might want to come on down for it next year. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hmmm! That might be a plan!

    Comment by momcat | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  4. Intlxpatr :

    The bead throwing is it part of Christmas tradition or is it mimicking the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans

    Comment by daggero | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  5. Momcat – YAYYY! 😀

    Daggero, it has nothing to do with Christmas. I think the bead throwing began with Mardi Gras but has become a cultural tradition in this part of the Gulf, sort of the New Orleans / Mobile / Pensacola axis of bead-throwing. It’s kind of like the Christmas tree has nothing to do with Christmas, but has become an entrenched tradition, non-religious.

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 13, 2010 | Reply

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