Florida Latter-day Saints #LightTheWorld with Christ-Themed Parade Float

Contributed By Kristi White, Church News contributor

  • 13 December 2018

Missionaries and members wave to parade-goers during Boca Raton’s 48th Annual Street Parade on December 5, 2018.  Photo by Rick Williams.

Article Highlights

  • Members in south Florida chose to #LightTheWorld by sharing God’s message in local parades.

In early December, a large group of full-time missionaries and a few Church members participated in the #LightTheWorld campaign from atop floats in local parades in south Florida.

The floats, featuring Christmas- and gospel-themed messages from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appeared in two parades on December 1 and 5—the city of Boynton Beach’s “Catch the Spirit of the Holidays” parade and the city of Boca Raton’s street parade, titled “Sights and Sounds of Broadway.”

Joining more than 130 other organizations, entries created by the Boynton Beach Florida Stake increased awareness about the Church and the #LightTheWorld campaign within a community of diverse religions, including Jewish, Baptist, and other Christian congregations. 

The Boynton Beach Florida Stake created a float depicting the nativity, and it was the only float in the Boynton Beach parade representing the birth of the Savior. The stake’s other float played on the success of the Broadway hit musical The Book of Mormon to introduce audience members to the Church. On the float, a large marquee displayed the words “Now that you’ve seen the show, why not read the book?” The old adage that “any press is good press” may have been true in this instance: thanks in part to the musical’s fame, more than 20,000 community members accepted over 5,000 pass-along cards and other Church pamphlets during the two parades.

In the past, the stakes have had some difficulty getting entries accepted to the parades, so leaders and members greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate. “Heavenly Father’s hand aided us in planning and putting such a beautiful float together. The full-time missionaries and our youth on the float comprised a special band of modern stripling warriors making a mark on our community with happy vigor,” said Lea Souza, a local Church member.

Some of the missionaries were in their element, running out to the audience and even jumping over bushes to hand out materials about the Church. Their efforts weren’t wasted: because missionaries shared information with parade-goers about the Boynton Beach Stake’s Festival of Nativities—which was the same night at one of the parades—a number of the audience members attended that Church-sponsored event as well.

Rick Williams, Boynton Beach Stake photographer, noted how impactful the manger scene on the Boynton Beach Stake’s float was for many parade-goers. “For 30 years I have been actively involved in missionary efforts in the Church. I have never before seen an event where thousands of people were introduced to the Church within only about an hour’s time,” he said. “As I looked through my camera lens, searching for a great shot, I noticed a repeated joyful appreciation on attendees' faces as they saw the only float based upon the Christmas nativity story of Jesus. The community was uplifted as a team of missionaries wished them a personal ‘merry Christmas.’”

The Boyton Beach Florida Stake’s float, with missionaries and other volunteers, appeared in Boca Raton’s 48th Annual Street Parade on December 5, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.

Missionaries hold a banner during Boca Raton’s 48th Annual Street Parade on December 5, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.

The Boynton Beach Stake’s nativity-themed float was staffed by full-time missionaries and other member volunteers on December 1, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.

Missionaries hand out pass-along cards and pamphlets during a parade in Boca Raton on December 5, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.

Volunteers interact with parade-goers during the Boynton Beach street parade on December 1, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.

Volunteers sit beside the Boynton Beach Stake parade float on December 1. Photo by Rick Williams.