Destin High Sharks to lead out in Destin Christmas Parade with Bruce at the head

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Over the years, there have been various dignitaries and prominent people in the community to serve as the grand marshal for the Destin Christmas Parade, but never a big blue predator. 

Serving as grand marshal of the 37th annual Christmas Parade this year will be “Bruce,” the shark who serves as mascot for the new Destin High School that opened its doors in August. 

Destin High School mascot Bruce the shark will be riding in the lead vehicle representing Destin High as the grand marshal of this year's Christmas Parade.

The theme for this year’s parade, which is set to roll out at 10 a.m. on Dec. 11, is Jingle Bell Rock. The floats will begin at the Downtown Destin Shopping Center and travel west down Harbor Boulevard to Stahlman Avenue. Spectators are asked to stand on the north side of the highway to watch the parade. 

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And in the lead vehicle will be Bruce. 

“We have a special surprise in what he will be riding in. ... It’s a secret,” Destin High Principal Christine Cruickshank said. 

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis hands out candy along the parade route during last year's Christmas parade.

In addition to Bruce, "We’re going to have as many students as possible involved,” Cruickshank added. 

The school has ordered about seven banners for different groups such as athletics, band, chorus, leadership and other clubs to be able to participate. 

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“So, any student that wants to be a part of it, we’ll find a spot for them,” Cruickshank said. 

Destin High was named to lead the parade by the parade committee. 

Okaloosa County Commissioner Mel Ponder and his wife Mona participated in the parade last year by handing out candy.

“It’s our first high school, and we thought it would be a good one to recognize,” said Lisa Firth, the city's parks and recreation director. “And it’s the only year that it will be a first for the school.”

And Destin High is honored to be chosen. 

The Destin MIddle School and Fort Walton Beach Viking band will join forces again for the Destin Christmas Parade.

“(Firth) said the school is the grand marshal, so we’re taking that to heart and allowing all students to be a part of it that want to be,” Cruickshank said. “It’s another first. ... We’re honored to have the city offer that to us. We’re working hard to play a special part in that position.” 

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Last year, the number of entries in the annual parade were down due to COVID, with 45 entrants. In 2019 the parade boasted 95 entries. 

Capt. Tommy Browning, who worked as a boat captain in the Destin charter fleet for than 40 years, served as the grand marshal of last year's Destin Christmas Parade. Sitting on the tailgate was his son, Tommy Lee.

This year, organizers anticipate the numbers to be back up. As of Nov. 23, 18 had groups already had entered. However, it’s not unusual for most entries to wait until the last minute, organizers said. 

Applications to participate in the parade have to be in by Dec. 1 at the Destin Community Center. In lieu of an entry fee, each applicant must donate a toy, which will be given to a local charity. All donations can be dropped off at the Community Center. 

Destin High School's shark mascot was revealed during a town hall meeting last year.