Sarasota, FL: For the first time in three decades, elephants will stroll down Main Street in the annual Downtown Sarasota Holiday Parade tomorrow Saturday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. The parade starts at U.S. 301 and Main Street and travels southwest along Main Street to Gulfstream Avenue. Two Indian elephants will participate in the parade.
As a way to recognize Sarasota’s deep roots with elephants, tigers, clowns, trapeze artists and more, this year’s theme for the holiday parade is the circus. Many community members, including Mayor Kelly Kirschner<http://www.sarasotagov.com/InsideCityGovernment/Content/Commissioners/Commissioners/Kirschner.htm>, the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, Circus Sarasota, the PAL Sailor Circus and Downtown Sarasota Celebrations, Inc., joined forced months ago to coordinate the circus theme. The participation of the pachyderms was just confirmed this week. They reside in the Gainesville area, and Westfield Southgate Shopping Mall is picking up the transportation tab. Besides the two elephants, the circus section of the parade also will include clowns and a big top van. “Sarasota and the circus are irrevocably linked,” said Mayor Kirschner. “It’s these little things that differentiate cities from one another; create a unique sense of place; and reinforces what home is for all of us.”
Historically, a circus parade was held every winter in Sarasota when the circus returned to the area for the winter. The last time an elephant walked down Main Street as part of the holiday parade, in 1974, famed animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams was riding atop it with a live tiger wrapped around his neck.
A total of 85 units will participate in this year’s parade including marching bands, floats, and local dignitaries. And, of course, a jolly old elf from the North Pole is expected to make a special appearance — after the pachyderms. The parade is organized by Downtown Sarasota Celebrations, Inc.
The family fun will begin prior to the parade, with an inaugural tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. at the newly renovated Five Points Park in downtown. Plan to arrive in downtown early as Main Street from U.S. 301 to Gulfstream Avenue will close to vehicular traffic at 5:00 p.m.
For more information contact Paul Thorpe with Downtown Sarasota Celebrations at 941-356-6646 or the Downtown Sarasota Alliance at 941-366-7040.