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De Soto Society Gears Up for 2013 Festivities


BRADENTON -- For Bradenton area residents of all ages, many of the most anticipated events each year have one thing in common: they're put on by the Hernando De Soto Historical Society. In addition to the famous parade and its ball, there's also the children’s parade, Easter sunrise service, seafood festival, bottle regatta and a musical fashion show – all within five weeks starting in late March. Get ready, De Soto season is coming.

Children’s Parade & Party in the Park

At this De Soto Heritage Festival event, the kids are in charge! This is a heart-warming day starting with the Children’s Parade featuring floats engineered and built in Manatee County schoolrooms and at home with wholesome themes and bright colors.

See them parade along the historic avenues of Palmetto, from the Manatee County Fairgrounds, south on 10th Avenue West and then along Fifth Street West to Lamb Park. Food and fun activities for children, including games and a magic show, will fill the day after the parade ends in Sutton and Lamb Parks. This is truly a family day full of smiles!

The parade will step off at 10 a.m. on March 29, 2013. The parade will feature awards for “Best Performance” as well as “Best Cheerleading Performance” and a non-float “School Spirit” cash award. There will also be a $1,000 award to the participating school who’s float entry best represents this year’s theme.

The parade lines up at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto, proceeds south on Tenth Avenue West from Fifteenth Street to Fifth Street, ending at Sutton Park. There will be a “Party in the Park” at Sutton & Lamb Parks immediately following the Children’s Parade until 2 pm.

Easter Sunrise Service

Come down to RiverWalk and join the Manatee Ministerial Association in conjunction with the Hernando de Soto Historical Society March 31 from 6:30-8:00 a.m. for an inspirational Easter service held at dawn along the banks of the Manatee River. A traditional observance is held with Conquistadors in full dress uniforms. This is truly a moving way to celebrate Easter.

SeaFood Fest


The De Soto Heritage Festival SeaFood Fest is widely recognized as one of Florida’s most outstanding riverfront / downtown events and is attended by thousands each year. The three-day family event features some of the best seafood around along with other tasty offerings from area restaurants and food vendors.

A great lineup of continuous entertainment on two stages includes the best the local music scene has to offer as well as nationally known recording artists. Area artisans and craft vendors as well as other activities for the whole family round the offerings at the Seafood Fest. This year's event will take place April 5-7.

Bottle Regatta


Wet, wacky and wild! The De Soto Heritage Festival Bottle Boat Regatta is packed full of fun and will be held again this year on the South side of the Palma Sola Causeway. Bring the family out to see teams compete in home made boats of all shapes, sizes and themes!

Witness various teams of friends, co-workers and children who have spent countless hours fabricating an array of exotic-looking boats that float on hundreds of plastic bottles! Teams row the bottle boats with paddles to get from the start to finish line. The heat is on as teams vie for a range of awards from fastest boat to best dressed crewe and more! It’s sheer lunacy . . . and a good time for all!

Boats must be on site by 9 a.m. Saturday, April 13, 2013.
Fees: $10 per crewe member, ages 14 and under
$15 per crewe member, ages 15 and over
Deadline: Registration due by April 5, 2013. Boat inspections due by April 8, 2013

Musical Fashion Show

The De Soto Heritage Festival Musical and Fashion Show will present a whole new look and attitude, April 20 at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium, beginning at 2:30 p.m. The production will feature the 2013 Queen’s Court performing skilled dance routines. This glittering show is one of the area’s premier family entertainment events.

De Soto Ball and Grande Parade


The big weekend starts with the De Soto Ball on Friday April 26 at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium. An elegant, black-tie evening filled with glitter, pomp and circumstance. This sell-out event is the crown jewel of the De Soto Heritage Festival where the 2012-13 Queen is crowned and the newest Hernando de Soto is invested. .

Also honored are the Princess and Hernando de Soto’s new Crewe of Conquistadors. Dancing, fun and entertainment lasting until midnight will follow the ceremonies. This sparkling affair has been one of Manatee County’s most prestigious social events for decades. Tickets are $50. For more information email info@desotohq.com.

The next night, the Grand Parade steps off at 6:30 p.m. Ranked as one of the largest and most prestigious parades in the South, the dazzling and exciting De Soto Heritage Festival Grand Parade is truly a sight to behold for all ages.

Over 150 illuminated parade entries light up the night with color, music and fanfare like you’ve never witnessed before! Starting at Manatee High School, the parade route goes west on Ninth Avenue, north along 39th Street West to Manatee Avenue and then turns east toward Downtown Bradenton to 9th Street West.


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