Residents save their seats for the DeSoto Grand Parade

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 25, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Chairs are beginning to line Manatee Avenue West, which can only mean one thing.

The annual DeSoto Heritage Festival Grand Parade is coming.

Bradenton residents have renewed the ritual of setting up chairs to secure a prime location to watch colorful floats and participants marching down Manatee Avenue in Saturday's parade.

"You have to!" said Mary Kay Vanasse. "We just put them out today."

Vanasse, owner of the Plus Sizes and More ladies consignment shop, has set up chairs in front of her business all three years since opening at 1910 Manatee Ave. W.

She plans a private party this year for family and friends to watch the parade as it comes by her store. As the week goes on, she knows other chair placemarks will join hers along the sidewalk.

"We've had issues with people putting their chairs where ours are," said Vanasse. "What we'll do is just move them down to one side."

Vanasse, a fifth-generation Manatee County resident, has many fond memories of watching and marching in the parade as a young girl.

"My dad was in the military, so we lived all over, but this has always been home," she said.

She is looking forward to the festivities, which will last for hours, since her store has no access from the back and Manatee Avenue will be shut down.

"Once you are here, you are here for the duration," Vanasse said.

Not all business owners welcome the parade chairs.

Gary Sweetman, owner of Gary Sweetman Photography and Digital Imaging at 2904 Manatee Ave. W, said he has enjoyed the floats and family fun in years past as the parade came by his store. This year he won't be at the store, but that hasn't stopped others from putting their own chairs out front.

"Some people are nice and ask, some don't," Sweetman said. "Usually, they don't."

Jessica De Leon, Herald Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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