LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – You can tell Christmas is not far away when Lakeland puts on its spectacular Christmas parade. 

Here are some stats: There were 95 floats. It takes six months to plan.

The Lakeland Christmas parade is a real hit.

It started with a bang, with a huge fireworks display.

An estimated 40,000 people lined the sidewalks of downtown Lakeland to watch this year’s edition of the Christmas parade.

The sights and sounds of this holiday favorite are a sure way to put people in the holiday mood.

“I think it’s exciting just to see how the community, how the Lakeland community can come alive at an event like that. And I think that’s the part that is the most exciting,” said Endy Ortiz.

If the floats didn’t get you smiling, the marching bands got your toes tapping.

The theme for this year’s parade was “Night At the North Pole.”

With temperatures in the mid 60s, attendees had to use a little imagination.

You could hardly find a place to sit and watch. Many people know the secret to getting a good spot is plunking down a chair hours ahead of time. The early stake out gets you a front-row view.

Rhonda Scott watched from a prime location. For her, the parade takes on important meanings.

“Happiness. Christmas. Family,” she said.

She came for a special reason.

“This is my third. My daughter, this is the first time she’s been in it in the marching band with Teneroc,” said Scott.

Soon, she spotted her daughter.

“There she is! Right there.”

For at least a couple of hours, people at the parade could put the cares of the world behind them.

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