MHS at the DeSoto Grand Parade


On Saturday, April 27 the DeSoto Grand Parade took place. It started at Manatee High School, headed west on 9th Street, then east on Manatee Avenue and ended up in downtown Bradenton. Hernando DeSoto Historical Society  hosted and started at 6:30 in the evening. The parade covers a 2.4-mile stretch in about three hours. This year, the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society says thank you to America’s veterans.  Together, all participants salute their service, honor their sacrifice and promise that their dedication to America will never be forgotten.

With about 150 entries, the DeSoto Grand Parade is one of the biggest in Florida and is now 80 years old. More than ten thousands people walk the streets of Bradenton and try to see Hernando DeSoto and the newly crowned  queen and princess. The event is the biggest of the year in Manatee County by far. Beads and coins were handed to the attendees throughout the evening. The DeSoto Grand Parade 5k also celebrated their 16th anniversary and collected money for the veterans.

In 1938, the U.S. Government-appointed Swanton Commission determined that Shaw’s Point at the mouth of the Manatee River was most likely the spot were the Spanish explorers arrived. One year later, the first Hernando DeSoto Parade started. The parade is celebrating  Hernando DeSoto’s landing in the Manatee River in May 1539 which is  Together with 600 Conquistadors, DeSoto claimed the property of La Florida for himself and the nation of the Spanish crown and later began a long exploration to the southeast United States.

Loud and clear: Once again a crowd favorite: the Marching Canes. The band played the fight song, while the sugar canes danced to the beat. “This year we are going to be even louder and better with our new program,” said Jenna Wolske, a senior.

“I am really excited to play at the parade, because it is always a lot of fun. Since it is my last year at Manatee High School I am even more excited to play. It is always amazing how many people are at the parade and that we have the honor  to play for them. The entire marching band is looking forward being there and play our new music program,” stated McKenna Longo, a senior.

The Hernando DeSoto Historical Society is responsible for keeping up the relationship with DeSoto’s Spanish hometown, Barcarotta or Jerez de los Cabalerros. That city sends a crew to Bradenton every year and Bradenton’s DeSoto crew travels to Barcarrota for its annual festival. The crew organizes the Barcarotta unit which is the birthplace of Hernando DeSoto.

The DeSoto Parade participants go through a lot of beads. Whoever does not need beads after the parade, the DeSoto Historical Society repurchase some of them back. Some local schools that participate also accept bead donations throughout the year.

The marching band played their Fight Song and Dancing Music