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Returning soon to Green Street, this Christmas tradition has celebrated Gainesville history for 20 years
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Parade participants in period costume lead off the annual Christmas on Green Street parade Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

On any given day, Green Street remains a heavily traveled thoroughfare flanked by 19th and 20th century Victorian and Neoclassical architecture.

But come the first Sunday in December, clad in holiday grandeur, the half-mile corridor becomes a passageway to Gainesville’s past.

Christmas on Green Street

When: 4-7 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: Historic Green Street, Gainesville

More info: gainesville.org

Visit The Times

The Times building will be open during Christmas on Green Street and will host the following activities:

  • Photo booth
  • View press running until 6 p.m.
  • Write letter to Santa
  • Pick up a free copy of Christmas on Green Street publication including information about historic homes

Since 2002, Christmas on Green Street has drawn crowds by the thousands to celebrate the holiday season with a parade and tours of the historic homes, which claim a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The tradition was minted by the Gainesville Historical Society, which organized the festivities year after year until its 2018 disbanding, when the event was handed off to the City of Gainesville. 

Today, it remains the largest event the city hosts in a single day, according to Main Street Gainesville manager Nicole Parham, and a meaningful way of celebrating the Gainesville of Christmases past, present and future.

“The historic district is the heartbeat of Gainesville — the origins, the things that helped us grow into who we are now as a community,” Parham said. “When we can celebrate our past, it’s also a way to celebrate today and also what’s to come. There’s such a mix of generations coming together. I think so often in our culture we separate all the generations — we have kids programs and young adult programs and things for older people, but things like Christmas on Green Street bring all the generations together to celebrate as one.”

This year’s Christmas on Green Street is slated for 4-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, featuring antique cars, festive floats and lively marching bands.

The festivities begin with road closures at 2 p.m. and the opening of the food court at 3 p.m.

The parade begins at 4 p.m., beginning near the “Y” intersection of Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive and continuing along Green Street down to EE Butler Parkway before exiting left on Spring Street.

True to tradition, Santa Claus will bring up the rear on board a Gainesville fire engine before magically appearing at the Norton Agency during open houses, which are slated to commence around 5:30 p.m., immediately following the parade.

This year, each home features its own QR code for guests to scan and learn more about their historical backgrounds.

The ceremonial lighting of the Rotary tree, a giant holly bush towering over the corner of Academy and Green streets, is slated for 6:30 p.m.

As a beloved tradition that withstands the test of time, Christmas on Green Street remains a significant means for preserving history and a sense of belonging amidst Gainesville’s continued surge of growth and development, according to Parham.

“It brings a sense of place, a sense of tradition and, as a community, it’s part of our foundation,” she said. “Those are things that bring life into our culture.”