Couple gets married on float during Lakeland's Christmas parade

Amid the elves, carolers and marching bands, one float in particular stood out in Lakeland’s annual Christmas Parade Thursday evening.

Eric Daniel and Joy Richter stood on top of it, smiling broadly in front of a preacher, surrounded by friends and family. As the float passed the parades judges' stand, the pastor pronounced them man and wife, for real.

"It is exhilarating and overwhelming," Daniel said. "There are so many people here."

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Daniel is a videography teacher, part-time actor and a former Polk County Sheriff's Office deputy. Richter is a registered nurse. The two got married in front of an estimated crowd of 50,000 people who turned out for the annual event. 

Daniel wanted to give Richter a wedding to remember, and he did. 

The theme of the parade this year was "Christmas Past, Present and Future." There were 100 entries, including floats, marching bands and organizations, 

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It has always been one of Lakeland’s most beloved get togethers for 41 years during the holidays.

"This is the event of the year," said Hannah Corlew of Winter Haven. "I have been coming here since I was a little girl. I just have a lot of memories of the hot chocolate, kettle corn and cotton candy."