by Lorie Lewis Ham
The pandemic has changed a lot of things, including how we celebrate the holidays. Many places are finding creative ways of still being able to enjoy the things we love and be safe. The Reedley Chamber of Commerce got creative with this year’s Fiesta Parade by doing what they called a reverse parade, and now they are doing it with the Electric Light Parade as well. We chatted with Chamber Director Erik Valencia to learn more.
KRL: I understand there will be a reverse Electric Light Parade (called the Holiday Light Reverse Parade this year) this year just like you had for the Fiesta parade, how did this idea come about?
Erik: Planning for the Reedley Fiesta typically begins in June and at that time this year we were already a couple months into the Covid-19 pandemic. We were aware that many of our neighboring communities had already decided to cancel their fall events, but our committee felt it was important that we figure out a way to put on the Fiesta for the Reedley Community.
At our first Fiesta zoom meeting we all threw out different ideas hoping to land on something that would feel like our traditional celebration but adhere to safety requirements. We thought of having a regular parade that traveled through a private route without spectators present that could be broadcast online. We also thought of having a small caravan that would bring the “parade” to all the neighborhoods in Reedley. Then, one of our members mentioned a “reverse parade”, but the original idea was to have individuals decorate their yards and then we would invite the community to drive through town to view the displays. Eventually, the idea evolved, and we thought, why not use the traditional parade route, and have the entries set up downtown with the public driving down the road to see them all. Although Reedley was not the first city in the nation to put on a reverse parade, we were definitely the first community in the Valley to put one on, and the way the idea evolved for us truly made it an original idea.
KRL: How exactly does this work?
Erik: The parade entries or “floats” are static displays that are set up along the parade route and it is the spectators who drive through the parade route to view the entries. The easiest way for me to explain the concept is to compare the experience to Christmas Tree Lane.
KRL: What kind of displays and floats can we expect to see?
Erik: That’s a hard question to answer because our parade allows for great creativity. Some entries may use tractors, trailers, tents, or even built sets, but they will all be covered in Christmas lights!
KRL: What do the musical groups and floats have to do to comply with Covid safety guidelines?
Erik: The purpose of the Reverse Parade is to provide an entertaining event while avoiding the gathering of a massive crowd of people. Social distancing guidelines will be in place for the event. Entries are spaced out and we ask each entry to stay within their pod groups. For spectators they must drive through the route. The public is not allowed to walk the route or watch curbside.
KRL: Can you tell us a bit about the parade’s theme?
Erik: This year’s parade theme is “Miracle on G Street.” It’s a play on the title name for the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street.” We just felt it was a fitting theme this year as G Street is a focal point of the parade.
KRL: When exactly is the parade, and what time?
Erik: The parade is on Saturday, November 28 and will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. No parking will be allowed on G Street after 4 p.m. so that the entries can begin to set up, but patrons can use the rear parking lots to shop and dine at the open downtown businesses.
KRL: Where does it start?
Erik: The entry point for the parade is North and Frankwood Avenues. The displays will be on G Street beginning at 8th Street in front of Pioneer Park and will end at 12th Street.
KRL: I understand the tree lighting will be virtual, what time and where can people watch that?
Erik: We will go live on the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page at 6:45 p.m. We will have a short ceremony hosted by KMPH Fox 26 Newscaster Liz Gonzales. At 7:00 p.m. we will do the countdown to light the tree. The tree lighting up will officially mark the start of the parade.
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Erik:Beginning Monday, November 23, the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Reedley will begin the SHOP REEDLEY marketing campaign culminating with SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY on November 28, highlighted by the Holiday Lane Reverse Parade, that evening. I am also heartfully thankful for the positive response and support we have received from the community. We know this has not been an easy year for everyone, but the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce is working hard to safely bring a bit of hope and joy to the community this holiday season.