The parade is the founding event of the Junior Orange Bowl International Youth Festival!
The Junior Orange Bowl Youth Festival blossomed in 1948 when the first Junior Orange Bowl Parade journeyed through beautiful downtown Coral Gables. This was the wonderful beginning of a festival that is totally dedicated to "Celebrating Youth". The Junior Orange Bowl has grown into a year-long youth festival, offering community, academic, and athletic events for youth and families.
The first Junior Orange Bowl Queen, Sandy Wirth, was crowned in 1951 starting a tradition of shaping and mentoring young community leaders. Young girls were judged on poise, personality and presentation. Preliminary pageants were held throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe Counties, as one queen, two princesses, and one little sister are chosen to be the Junior Orange Bowl community ambassadors each year. The Royal Court regularly volunteered at community service projects to develop leadership and philanthropic values in addition to their duties to be present and represent the Junior Orange Bowl at festival events, and a highlight of their year of service was the honor of riding on the Royal Court float in the parade.
1990 was a landmark year in the Junior Orange Bowl’s history with the success of the festival’s first-ever nighttime parade. Over 150,000 spectators attended this historic event. In 1993, a Pre-Parade show was added to the already exciting parade line-up.
The 2013-2014 Festival Season marked another change for the Junior Orange Bowl Parade. The date of the Parade moved to the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This date change allowed further involvement and more participation from local organizations and schools.
The 2014 Parade welcomed the Taiwanese Consulate for the first time, who entered a float and dazzled the crowd with their cultural performances. The emphasis will continue in the future to attract more international cultural groups and work closely with the consulates based in Miami to enhance the cultural aspects of the parade.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, we were unable to hold our traditional parade down Miracle Mile, but we managed to do two mini "pop-up" events: a 3-float toy drive collection at Merrick Park and a mini-parade/toy delivery to the patients at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Santa arrived in a fire truck so he could be sure to see and wave to the kids who peered down from the windows in their rooms. After a very tough year, it was wonderful to bring a little joy to everyone and see the many surprised and smiling faces!
For 2021, the Parade Committee has BIG plans - and some exciting new changes in store. We can't wait to see you there!