Seasonal spotlight – Light Up Ocala

The annual Light Up Ocala celebration shines thousands of holiday lights on the heart of the community, except there was one difference this year.

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Posted November 18, 2023 | Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette
Text By Staff Report/Ocala Gazette

Staff report

The Saturday before Thanksgiving marks the kickoff to the holiday season in downtown Ocala. And it’s all about the “oohs!”

“Ooh, here comes the Junior Sunshine Parade. Ooh, there’s Santa Claus!”

“Ooh, there are so many people here!”

“Ooh, let’s check out the entertainment at the gazebo!”

And midway through the afternoon/evening program, “Ooh! Look at all those lights!”

Visitors of all ages relish the annual tradition of crowding into the streets all around the downtown square for the beloved Light Up Ocala celebration, which this year marked its 39th anniversary.

There was plenty to do see, sip and eat throughout the event on Saturday, Nov. 18. And to buy, with lots of vendors on hand.

Saturday’s Light Up Ocala—once again—was all about exciting activities, creating memories and celebrating the beautiful town we know and love.

There was one difference this year, credentialed press were restricted to only public spaces and not allowed behind the scenes.

Only contracted photographers for the city, who are not journalists representing independent news outlets, were allowed access.

“I’ve covered this event, and city government for 31 years and never encountered this before,” said “Gazette” staff photographer Bruce Ackerman, an award-winning veteran photojournalist.

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