by Mallory Moad
Check out the coupon for Sunnyside Bicycles in Reedley at the end of this post!
There are three more parades on my schedule – let the countdown begin! On December 12 I headed south on 99 once again, this time to the tiny town of London. If you’re confused, it’s London, California I’m talking about. I’d be willing to bet most Central Californians have never heard of this community of 2500, located 20 miles southeast of Kingsburg and nestled in the middle of acres of vineyards, peach and nectarine orchards and citrus groves.
So on a chilly Saturday afternoon under a big blue and white sky, I took my place in the reviewing section for the 21st Annual London Christmas Parade. The parade has gradually grown in size over the years. The first one had only 5 entries; the 2015 parade had 25. Participants aren’t limited to London – Dinuba, Reedley and Kingsburg were represented as well.
Although the London Christmas Parade may have been small compared to some of the other parades I’ve attended this year, it had everything a parade needs. There were floats, a Grand Marshall, restored classic cars, beauty queens, horses, two fire engines (one old, one new) and a marching band. There was even an announcer who welcomed everyone. Who could ask for more?
The procession was led by Deputy Campos driving a car from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Unit. According to local legend, Deputy Campos makes the best jalapeno mashed potatoes. With flashing lights and whooping siren, the stage was set for an upbeat holiday event.
The London Parade’s official marching band and color guard came from Washington Intermediate School in Dinuba. Looking festive in red and white uniforms accessorized with Santa hats and stepping in time, they performed a spirited rendition of that traditional Christmas tune, “Jingle Bells.”
A variety of organizations from London and neighboring towns rode or walked in groups. Members of the congregation of the local Pentecostal Church tossed candy from a eye-catching float trimmed with silver tinsel, wrapped presents and a life-sized snowman. The Road Hogz running group from Reedley, smiling and cheerful in sweatshirts bearing their logo, tossed more candy to the onlookers.
The colorful and charming London Library float was a crowd pleaser. Library founder, Robert Isquierdo (wearing a fabulous red suit) was joined by Boots the Monkey, Minion Phil, Hello Kitty, Donald Duck and a reindeer, waving and tossing even more candy. This parade probably set the record for the most candy distributed in an event of its size. The library wasn’t the only entry that featured costumed mascots. Elmo, a Ninja Turtle, Spongebob Squarepants and a really cute snowman hitched a ride on a whimsical mini-train while Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse and an energetic wolf accompanied the FUEL (Future Unique Enthusiastic Leaders) group.
London doesn’t have have a large population, that’s a fact. But like the Grinch after his epiphany, it has a really, really big heart. And that’s why, although it may not be a major metropolis, London knows how to put on a parade!
My name is Mallory Moad and I love parades so much I’m going to attend two in one day. Sanger and Kingsburg, I’m on my way!
You can find all of Mallory’s Valley Parade articles in KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section.