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Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan announced today that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, through its Fresh From Florida marketing campaign, will partner with Florida Citrus Sports on the event formerly known as the Orlando Citrus Parade. The event’s new name will be the Fresh From Florida Parade.

An annual holiday classic, this year’s Fresh From Florida Parade will be held on Saturday, December 31, 2011 in Downtown Orlando, with step-off scheduled for 11:00 a.m.

“The Fresh From Florida Parade is a great opportunity for Florida to celebrate our locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Commissioner Adam Putnam. “From oranges and strawberries to sweet corn and bell peppers, Florida offers something to satisfy everyone’s taste.”

The year-long partnership focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles and nutrition while educating consumers about the abundance of Florida seafood and agricultural products. In addition, the partnership will seek to raise awareness about the importance of Florida’s $100 billion agriculture industry. With a year-round growing season, Florida is a national leader in agricultural production.

Florida agriculture is represented by over 47,000 farms covering more than 9.2 million acres. Florida typically ranks among the top five states in fresh seafood production, with an average harvest of over 84 million pounds accounting for a dockside value of more than $168 million. Florida aquaculturists produce the greatest variety of aquatic species of any state in the nation. Florida is a leading U.S. producer of farm-raised ornamental fish, aquatic plants and an important producer of hard clams.

The parade has grown to be one of the largest sports-affiliated parades in the nation.  This event is distinguished by signature custom floats parading down a two-mile stretch of downtown Orlando. The floats are made from over 100,000 pieces of both citrus fruit and Florida agricultural-related products attached by over 500 volunteers, with assembly taking place over a four-day period. 

One added feature of the partnership will be Fresh From Florida’s involvement as a FCSports Foundation MVPs Corporate Champion. Fresh From Florida will serve as an advisor for the FCSports Summer Camp, implementing a healthy lifestyle initiative will be incorporated into the curriculum of the annual camp for disadvantaged Central Florida youth.

The parade also features a celebrity grand marshal to be announced (last year’s was former UCF and NFL quarterback Daunte Culpepper), high school bands from across the nation and other family entertainment.  More than 50,000 fans are expected to line the parade route. 

The Fresh From Florida Parade will be one of three signature FCSports events that take place during Orlando Bowl Week. It will be flanked between Orlando’s two college football bowl games — the Champs Sports Bowl (Thursday, Dec. 29) and the Capital One Bowl (Monday, Jan. 2). Official team bands from schools participating in the Capital One Bowl will perform in the parade.

Last year, the syndicated broadcast of the parade – co-hosted in 2010 by Bill (The Apprentice) and Giuliana Rancic (E! News co-host) — was televised in over 168 markets nationwide and in Guam.

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