Destin Christmas parade is a go for Dec. 12, but the city is stressing precautions

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Yes, there will be a Destin Christmas parade.

After a brief discussion, the Destin City Council voted this week to proceed with a parade this year in an effort to bring hope during the pandemic.

Newly elected Councilman Kevin Schmidt raised the question about a parade.

"Growing up here in Destin, the parade was a very special thing for me and my family," Schmidt said.

More:HISTORIC CHRISTMAS PARADES: View photos of parades from our past

Schmidt said he has been asked lately whether Destin will have a parade.

"I know there are concerns with what's going on in 2020," he said.

However, people can take precautions and social distance and wear masks at the event, Schmidt added.

Children cheer for goodies during the 2018 Destin Christmas Parade.

"We're probably already limiting the number of entries because of the late date," Schmidt said with Christmas less than 35 days away.

More:Destin boat parade still afloat for Christmas 2020

Destin usually holds its Christmas parade the first or second Saturday of December.

"I think we are already going to have less participants because of COVID," said Schmidt, who added that some groups might not have enough time to pull floats together.

Councilman Skip Overdier also brought up COVID concerns and keeping people safe, noting the parade is attended by thousands.

Newly-elected Councilwoman Teresa Hebert favored going forward with a parade. Hebert said she had talked with Lisa Firth, the city's Parks and Recreation Director, about safety and COVID concerns.

Participants in the 2018 Destin Christmas Parade walk along Harbor Boulevard.

"It's not the crowds that you get the infection from because everyone is very cautious, wearing masks. It's when you are around your small groups ... you let your guard down," Hebert said.

"They are going to be outside ... not like they are going to be in a closed building doing this. I really feel like people are smart enough," she added.

Decorated vehicles roll along Harbor Boulevard in Destin during the 2018 Christmas Parade.

"We need this. We need to do what we can to give people some kind of normalcy," Herbert said. "I think we should go for it."  

More:Dec. 2019 - Destin parades by land and by sea

Mayor Gary Jarvis agreed with Schmidt.

"We're all going to Walmart every day and Home Depot, and we do the things to stay safe," such as wearing a mask, Jarvis said.

"I love a parade," he added.

"If I was voting I would vote yes," he said.

The 36th annual "Joy to the World" Christmas parade will roll out at 10 a.m. Dec. 12.

The floats will begin at Downtown Destin Shopping Center near Old Time Pottery and travel west down U.S. Highway 98 (Harbor Boulevard) to Stahlman Avenue.

Spectators are asked to stand on the north side of U.S. 98 to watch. For those who wish to participate in the parade, email to request an application.

Applications must be received no later than Dec. 4. They can be dropped off in person at the Destin Community Center (101 Stahlman Ave), faxed to 850-654-8998 or emaied to

In lieu of an entry fee, each applicant must donate a toy, which will be given to Angel Tree Ministries. All donations can be dropped off at the Destin Community Center.

All parade participants and spectators are strongly encouraged to protect themselves and their loved ones by doing the following:

  • Wear a mask/face covering.
  • Maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet between individuals not within the same household.
  • Please limit spectator groups to no more than eight people.
  • If you are sick, exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, please stay home.
  • The city staff is working on ways to live-stream the parade. More details will be forthcoming.

Related:Radio, business legend Gabby Bruce has died

This year's parade is dedicated to the memory of Gabby Bruce, who helped line up the floats for many years. Bruce was a longtime DJ for radio station WMMK.