I have not been able to find record of the first Holiday Parade in Downtown Santa Cruz, but I know it has been happening every year for a long time. There are pictures of Santa Cruz High School’s Cardinal Regiment and Color Guard participating in the event that date as far back as the 1940’s. I also have pictures in the office of the Downtown Holiday Parade on 41st Avenue, which I presume was December of 1989, in the wake of the Loma Prieta earthquake.
This year, I believe, will be my 9th Downtown Holiday Parade. Every year I love it more. One of my favorite moments is the morning of the parade in the staging area, waiting for 10:00 to arrive. So much of Santa Cruz’ diversity is represented and brought together for this day of celebration. Car clubs and bicycle enthusiasts, Boy Scouts, Derby Girls, dancers, singers, seniors and strollers – all getting themselves ready. Putting those final decorations on The Second Harvest truck, practicing the dance moves one last time, warming up their voices, refining juggling moves on their unicycles – everybody is getting ready to march, drive or pedal up Pacific Avenue and wave to their friends and neighbors.
For me, the magic of the Holiday Parade goes beyond just the amazing sensory experience that happens at this festive occasion. The very idea that for one day, despite the challenges that we face as a community, despite the disagreements and differences of opinions, beliefs and philosophies, a significant cross-section of the Santa Cruz community comes together and moves in the same direction for the singular reason of celebration.
Today, as I write this, a very impressive storm is building and heading this way. The saying “Rain on my parade” is usually a metaphor for imposing disappointment. Obviously the phones are ringing off the hook with folks wanting to know if it will happen. Right now we are moving forward and keeping an eye on the weather. Tomorrow morning by 7:00am we will post on DowntownSantaCruz.com to let everyone know what the call is.
My personal prediction is that we will have a perfectly timed break in the weather and we will carry on with the best Holiday Parade in memory. We’ll see. If there are high winds and it’s not safe, we will call it, but if it’s a little wet, and you’re up for it, I’ll be there, Santa will be there, and I’m sure a big part of the community will show up to celebrate all of the things there are to celebrate in this most remarkable community. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your parade gets rained on, as long as you march on!
Downtown Association of Santa Cruz