It will be all about the beads Saturday when the annual DeSoto Heritage Festival Grand Parade rolls through Bradenton. More than 150 illuminated parade entries, which are pretty much just bead carriers in the eyes of most, will be full of participants hurling the plastic prizes in every direction. But the competition could be tough with 200,000 or so spectators expected. So we talked to Chris Wilkinson, the Grand Parade chairman, Tuesday about the best ways to collect those highly coveted beads.
How early do the hardcore, parade-loving people start putting chairs out on Manatee Avenue so they can get beads?
The first report was Thursday of last week at 39th Street and Manatee Avenue there were chairs and caution tape.
Where’s the best place to watch the parade and get beads?
Come on. Really?
I say anywhere because we have such a good participation of entries; they all know how excited everyone is and from start to finish they stay excited, too.
Any secrets to getting the most beads this year?
Radio station WCTQ (106.5) has made an announcement that if you make your own WCTQ banner, they promise to throw beads in your direction.
What’s the wrong way to go about trying to get beads?
Very simple: running out into the street. That’s a no-no. Let them come to you.
What are the best beads?
Actually, the prize possessions aren’t the beads, they’re the commemorative coins are crewe throws out.
Speaking of the Crew of Hernando Desoto, how many beads does the average Conquistador give away during the parade?
They could go through 10,000 beads in a parade.
Which crewe is most generous with their beads?
Hernando DeSoto, of course!
In addition to treasure chests full of beads, what special features would we find on the Crew of Hernando DeSoto ship that will be rolling down Manatee Avenue?
I will confess that I do know there is a restroom on board.
Ever find any stowaways on the ship trying to steal your beads?
Yes, but usually not on the float; they’re always trying to run up to the float. We have a great float crewe that does bead security.
Where is the post-parade party and will there be any beads there?
We will be partying in downtown Bradenton and yes there will be beads there.
What’s a guaranteed way to get a great set of beads from a Crew of Hernando Desoto Conquistador?
Yell very loud and jump up and down as they come by. The more you can get our attention and show your appreciation the better chance of getting a great set of beads.