A full slate of festivities are planned throughout the day Saturday, Dec. 3, in Dunnellon.

The day’s activities are anchored by the return of the Dunnellon Christmas parade, which takes off from Dunnellon Middle School at 6 p.m., and a Santa in the Park event at Ernie Mills Park from 2 to 9 p.m.

In addition to a visit from the man himself, Santa Claus, from 4 to 5 p.m., there will be food, entertainment, a bounce house, free games and an ice skating rink. The rink will be set up in the back of the park near the pickle ball courts. Ocala company Blue Gator has agreed to provide one of their “eco-rinks” made of synthetic ice as a free demo.

“We were kind of scratching our heads about it and didn’t know how we were going to come up with the money to get an ice skating rink, but (Community Development found a company) willing to do a demo for free,” Dunnellon Community Development Director Georgina Cid said. Cid said potential private donors have reached out with interest for purchasing a rink for the future.

Before Santa arrives, the Dunnellon Chamber and Business Association is holding its “First Saturday” event at Ernie Mills from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The monthly market features a variety of local vendors to check out while children can play at the playground. The event also provides a map of local shops offering Saturday specials. Simultaneously, the Historic Village Shoppes, located on the west side of town, will be offering holiday specials from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The opening ceremonies for Santa at the Park take place at 3 p.m. at Ernie Mills.

This year’s parade theme is “Christmas across the decades.” As it leaves the school, it will travel south down Cedar Street and then east on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Rainbow River bridge on County Road 484.

A professional photographer will not be available for Santa, so families are encouraged to take their own photos.

The day’s events are sponsored by the Dunnellon Chamber, City of Dunnellon and various local business and historic district shops.

Ernie Mills Park is behind the Regions Bank on East Pennsylvania Avenue, on Bostick Street.

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