OKEECHOBEE – For years, residents of Okeechobee’s Lazy 7 neighborhood have enjoyed riding golf carts around their neighborhood. During the pandemic, they even decorated the golf carts and started their own lighted Christmas parade.
Earlier this year, the golf cart fun came to halt after complaints to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office resulted in a crack down on the use of golf carts on residential roads. The use of golf carts on public roads is against the law in Okeechobee County. The only exceptions are the use of golf carts that have been modified to make them street legal on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less and the use of golf carts in areas that have been declared golf cart communities.
Some residents have tried to make the changes required to have their golf carts meet the standard for a golf cart to be street legal. But the expensive modifications required aren't a option for most.
Others tried going to the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners to ask their neighborhood be declared a golf cart community, but the commissioners refused to consider it.
“What about our parade?” some asked on the community’s Facebook page.
At the Nov. 9 meeting of the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners, Harry Marks, a resident of Lazy 7, asked commissioners for a special exception to hold the parade. “I represent my neighbors in Lazy 7 and the surrounding areas,” Marks told the commissioners. He said they designed the parade route to stay away from State Road 70 to ensure they have no issues with high speed vehicles. They came to the commission for a special exception “to make sure we do it right.”
After receiving approval for their parade application, the organizers got busy. Those who wanted to participate in the parade were given the county guidelines and signed their agreement to comply with the rules.
On Saturday at 5:30 p.m. golf carts started lining up along Southwest 21st Parkway. Santa and Mrs. Claus were there to meet with area children before the parade, and then climbed into their own golf cart to lead the parade. The parade route included Southwest 67th Drive, Southwest 13th Street, Southwest Ninth Street, the Lazy 7 subdivision and Southwest 85th Avenue. The impressive lineup included 54 lighted golf carts, some decorated with inflated holiday figures.