The Sunday Market on Corey Avenue ended an hour earlier than usual on December 14: Santa was coming to town accompanied by the festivities of the St. Pete Beach Hometown Christmas and Parade.
Early on after the market, the avenue dressed in Christmas ornaments exploded with an accordion orchestra from the Mattioli School of Music and Arts. People gathered, filled the restaurants and sat on curbs, looking west to where the sirens heralded Santa’s approach.
Finally, Santa arrived. The street filled with a cacophony of bagpipes from St. Andrew’s Pipe Band of Tampa Bay, truck horns and party whistlers, bikers’ roars, St. Pete Beach and Pinellas fire and police sirens and even cheers from the St. John’s School cheerleaders. City commissioners, St. Pete Beach Mayor Maria Lowe, local businesses, elves, deer and other kinds of Santa’s helpers also escorted Santa through the street, throwing candy and beads to the children, but only to those were nice this year.
Many visitors celebrated all day long on Corey Avenue by first attending the Sunday Market, then watching the parade and continuing with more shopping, dining and celebrating with music and fun activities.
Last year’s parade held on Saturday morning was less successful, said Robbie Caan, owner of Simply Perfect Gifts, an ocean-themed shop in the epicenter of the event, across from the stage set up for bands and entertainers.
People came for the parade and left when it was over, said Caan, but this year they were not rushed and stayed longer. “Making it 4 p.m. on a Sunday was the best thing they could do for the parade!” she said. “There are a lot more people!”