It takes lights, lights and more lights to Light Up Viera


Events and marketing coordinator Tonya Evans, left, marketing assistant Laurie Widzgowsk and marketing manager Stephanie Byrd of The Viera Company show off the newest creations for the Light Up Viera Parade set for Saturday, Nov. 26, ugly Christmas sweaters and beautiful angel and Christmas tree costumes.

photo by Linda Wiggins

Ugly Christmas sweaters have become all the rage at holiday parties in recent years. So The Viera Company marketing director Stephanie Byrd decided they should have a starring role in the 2016 Light Up Viera Parade, which gets underway from 6 to 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, on Thanksgiving Day weekend following the Black Friday shopping holiday.

The problem? Such a thing does not exist that is big enough and bright enough to stand up to a parade. The solution? Byrd became an Ugly Sweater Parade Entry Designer.

Lauri Duda, center, adds lights and more lights to the angel costume she designed for the Light Up Viera Parade. | PHOTO BY LINDA WIGGINS“We looked everywhere to find really big ugly sweaters for this parade and found nothing. To make a statement, they had to be larger-than-life and have decorative elements you can see in the dark. The wiggly Santa eyes on the Santa Lounge Sweater glow in the dark. My personal favorite is the holiday dogs, chickens and pigs sweater.”

Parade goers are encouraged to visit after the parade to check out the meticulous detail of all the sweaters.

And juxtaposed against the ugly will be the beautiful: gorgeous tulle angel costumes and Christmas tree costumes designed by fourth-generation Duda descendant Lauri Duda, The Viera Company vice president of marketing. Layer upon layer of sheer lacy strips virtually glow when lit.

“We have put hundreds of hours into these creations, getting them just right, adding lights, lights and more lights, and topping them off with head pieces that contain more lights, all fueled by batteries that are part of the costume and have to last the entire night,” Duda said. “It is quite a design feat.”

Also new this year is the lead float, an old time train engine that looks like a giant child's toy. Host for the float will be Health First, which has been a presenting sponsor each year since Light Up Viera began.

“We always look to have something new and thrilling, to add to our favorites that people look to see again,” said Tonya Evans, coordinator of the nonprofit Viera Community Institute arm that oversees signature events for The Viera Company.

“This float is so gorgeous and colorful, it definitely will set the tone of the parade for fun, playfulness and nostalgia for the great toys we received in our youth that make us smile to this day, and make us want to make the holidays special for our children and grandchildren.”

Capping off the parade will be Santa on his sleigh on The Viera Company float.

Back by popular demand is the Battle of the Bands. Area high school bands will perform along the route for a cash prize. Each of the entrants receive a performance donation to offset costs and enhance their programs from the Viera Community Institute, among whose key community-building values is education. 

Parade viewers are encouraged to get their places early for best views of the floats. Parking is at Space Coast Stadium and along the route, see map. Staging for the floats is at Viera High School, the beginning and end of the parade. The parade route will head north on Stadium Parkway, turn left on Veterans Way, turn right and head north on Breslay Drive, turn right on Tavistock Drive, turn right on Viera Boulevard, and turn right/south on Stadium Parkway back to Viera High School. The Battle of the Bands winner will be announced during the “Home for the Holidays” celebration with Santa and friends at Viera High School.

Light Up Viera Parade, Saturday, Nov. 26 

  • 5 p.m. — Find your spot to view the magical parade.

  • 6 p.m. — Light Up Viera Parade begins with a fireworks display at Space Coast Stadium

  • 6:50 p.m. — The first band begins the Battle of the Bands competition.

  • 8 p.m. — Voting for the Battle of the Bands ends.

  • 8:15 p.m. — The Battle of the Bands winner will be announced during the “Home for the Holidays” celebration with Santa and friends at Viera High School.

To volunteer, sponsor or for more details and up-to-date information about the parade route and activities, go to, email or call 321-255-4500.