By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY -- For about 25 years, Bonnie Landry has attended the Stuart Christmas parade, an event that for her is a key part of local holiday celebrations.
This year for the first time, Ms. Landry will co-chair the parade organized by Stuart Main Street and the Downtown Business Association.
"It's quite a tradition here," Ms. Landry said of the parade that has been a major attraction for more than half a century.
"It's a community event and something that most people have been participating in for many years."
Now in its 52nd year, the annual Christmas parade is returning to downtown at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7.
This year's theme is "Christmas by the Sea," and will feature Santa Claus in a beach buggy.
The parade will travel about 1.25 miles along East Ocean Boulevard between Georgia Avenue and Monterrey Road.
About 80 entrants have signed up, including dancers, seven bands, five performing groups and 28 lighted floats.
"It's always spectacular and always fun," said Leslie Burgess, who's attended the parade for more than a decade. "It creates a great sense of community that you don't get in other cities."
Serving as grand marshal will be Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, who is leaving office in January after 20 years in the chief law enforcement role.
Residents who can't be among the thousands set to attend the parade can watch it on Martin County Television, MCTV channel 20, for coverage by co-hosts Gabriella Ferraro and Kate Parmelee.
"There's such broad participation," said Ms. Landry, who is chairing the parade with colleague Teresa Lamar-Sarno.
"You have quite a diverse group, from businesses to nonprofits and elected officials coming out to be part of this."