Here Comes the Big Parade! Golf Cart Parades Around the United States

golf cart parades
Isle of Palms, SC 4th of July Parade / Photo Credit: Mamon Raber

There’s an old song titled “I love a parade.” It was probably written because Americans of every age always seem to get excited about parades of all sorts, especially around the celebration of a major holiday. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a great example. I mean, who wouldn’t get a charge seeing an inflated turkey as tall as a five-story building?

The Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade

Well, golf cart owners and aficionados now have a complete spectrum of decorated golf cart parades to attend and enjoy. One of the oldest, the Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade, will stage its 54th appearance on October 28th this year as decorated carts roll down the city’s prime shopping street, El Paseo. Each year has a different theme. This year is about superheroes. The heroes can be of the comic book variety, represent first responders of all stripes or can be dedicated to a personal hero like a cherished family member or community volunteer.

The Palm Desert route is about a mile long and will feature over 100 decorated golf carts that will be judged to be awarded several prizes. Participants invest a numerous amount of time and money to win one of these coveted prizes and have bragging rights leading into next year’s parade. It is estimated that there will be close to 30,000 spectators lining the parade route.

The Villages Christmas Parade

The Guinness World Record for the largest golf cart parade is held by a retirement community in Florida called, you guessed it, The Villages. The golf cart is the primary mode of transportation in this huge community and it is estimated there are over 43,000 carts roaming the streets. The parade record is for 3,321 decorated carts being driven in The Villages Christmas Parade. Just imagine how long it would take to watch over 3,000 carts drive by and you have a feeling for how seriously The Villages residents take their carts. They are not just used for golf, but for trips to one of the many recreation centers, shopping areas, restaurants and neighborhood gatherings.

The Villages Christmas Parade in The Villages, FL / Photo Credit: Villages-News.com Youtube Channel

In all, The Villages, which is located about 90 miles north of Orlando, has over 100,000 residents, 39 golf courses and more than 1,800 clubs and activities. But, golf cart parades are not just limited to huge master planned communities, although Florida claims the lion’s share of these events.

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Halloween Golf Cart Parade / Photo Credit: MouseSteps / JWL Media Channel – Youtube.com

Fort Wilderness Golf Cart Parade

Fort Wilderness Resort, a Disney community in Florida, stages golf cart parades on Halloween, Christmas Eve and the fourth of July. Facebook is loaded with photos of these events and may give you some decoration ideas if you plan to participate in a coming parade. There are even companies specializing in golf cart decorations if your artistic imagination needs a shot in the arm.

The Duggans attend the Christmas Parade in Bradenton, FL / Photo Credit: Michael Duggan

Bradenton Annual Christmas Parade

Bradenton, Florida stages an annual Christmas parade, as does Dewees Island South Carolina. Galveston, Texas has an annual event for Mardi Gras they call The Zaniest Golf Cart Parade. This last year they boasted a zombie cart where the passenger waved to the crowd with a fake severed arm. This may not be an event where you would want to bring your kids.

Other Golf Cart Parades

Other holidays are also favored for decorated carts. Vero Beach, Florida has an Easter cart parade, not surprisingly held on Easter. Winter Garden, Florida, has a parade that started with only 12 carts and now has over 100 brightly colored participant carts. Surfside Beach, South Carolina has their event on Memorial Day, so expect a lot of red, white and blue decorations that include a multitude of American flags. Even the tiny Catalina Island, which uses golf carts for everything and only allows a VERY SMALL number of cars, has a parade each year. Garden City, South Carolina has built its number of parading carts to around 325, which is close to the number hitting the street on Pawley’s Island, South Carolina in an area called The Grand Strand close to golf-centric Myrtle Beach. Sun City. Florida is also a major parade location, although nothing comes close to the over 3,000 carts that are decorated for The Villages.

If you’d like to proudly display your cart along with your artistic talents, contact your local chamber of commerce or cart dealer to see if there is parade you can join. Or, organize your own parade around a special event or holiday. Remember, Winter Garden, Florida started with only a dozen carts and now lines the streets with over 100. You’ll have fun and you may end up starting something big.

Ken Becker
Ken is a veteran of the golf industry, with experience in golf course operations, country club marketing, tournament staging (including the nationally televised ProStakes) and too many mis-hit shots to count. He has been writing since he could hold a pen and has been published in numerous national and industry publications. Ken has worked on projects with PGA pros like Jack Nicklaus, Peter Jacobsen, Fuzzy Zoeller, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Craig Stadler.