Junior Parada Royalty

Junior Parada Royalty ride in the 2019 parade.

FLORENCE — Amid COVID-19 restrictions and concerns, the town is still planning to have an 88th annual Junior Parada parade and a Christmas parade — although they’ll be modified for safer social distancing — and several more fall events.

The Junior Parada parade on Nov. 28 will include hay bales set up on Main Street for personal viewing areas, and spectators will also be encouraged to view the parade on Pinal Street.

This year’s Junior Parada will also include the traditional western week, in which locals are encouraged to dress western or risk “jail” in the week leading up to the world’s oldest youth rodeo, Florence Recreation Superintendent Alison Feliz told the Town Council Monday. Main Street merchants will be encouraged to resume the tradition of decorating their windows.

Feliz said the Pinal County Mounted Posse reports close to 400 contestants — almost double that of recent years — for the rodeo, from Friday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Nov. 29.

Councilwoman Michelle Cordes said the town is known for its holiday parades, and she hopes they’re canceled only as a last resort. “I’m glad to hear they’re planned and not canceled.”

Nothing has been decided yet on whether the town will host its traditional historic home and building tour in February. But Feliz reported several other upcoming events:

  • Florence Arts and Culture Festival, hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, will be Saturday and Sunday with artists, vendors, a kids’ crafts area and music.
  • Third Fridays continue downtown with vendors, live music, a steak fry and shopping specials.
  • The American Legion is planning a Veterans Day ceremony, 8 to 9 a.m. next Wednesday, at the town’s Veterans Memorial at the Library & Community Center.
  • A Florence Farmers Market is planned 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 14, Dec. 12, Jan. 9, Feb. 6, March 13 and April 10 on Arriola Square with fresh produce, crafts and acoustic music.
  • The Gilbert Days Pony Express will come through town at approximately 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14. The public can mail letters at the library drop box, which will receive a Pony Express cancellation stamp. Letters must have proper postage. Local grade schools have been invited to write letters to be delivered by Pony Express. Senior Center volunteers will also pick up stamped letters while delivering home-bound meals.
  • The Historic Florence Foundation is planning Old West Days on Dec. 19 and Feb. 13 with reenactments and historical presentations.
  • A house decorating contest begins on Dec. 4.

Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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