by Mallory Moad
Check out the coupon for Sunnyside Bicycles in Reedley at the end of this post!
Of all the days I’ve spent watching parades this year, December 5 was the most challenging – it was a Christmas parade double-header! That’s right, I attended two very different parades in one day and lived to tell you all about it.
First up was Sanger’s 68th Annual Nation’s Christmas Tree City Toyland Parade. That’s a long title, but an important one and here’s why: Sanger was designated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree City by the U.S. Postal service in 1949, a legacy the people of this city take seriously. If I had an official title like that I’d want everyone to know about it, too. So on that overcast but not-too-chilly Saturday morning I joined the crowd of 3,000 lining the streets to cheer for over 96 entries in this charming, personable display of Christmas spirit.
It quickly became obvious that Sanger loves their kids and is proud of their achievements. The parade was led by over 85 members of the Sanger High School Navy Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps. Floats from elementary schools and churches were filled to capacity. Energetic young people represented the Sanger Soccer League, Sanger Youth Football and the Sanger FFA and 4H clubs.
There were participants from dance schools, equestrian teams, arts organizations and two marching bands. There’s no reason for kids to be bored in this town! “Star Wars” was a popular theme this year. Princess Leia (complete with her iconic cinnamon bun hairstyle) watched over a group of light saber wielding Jedi-in-training on Jackson Elementary School’s float while Sanger Community Day School displayed a positive message: May The Force Be With You This Holiday Season.
That evening I made a return trip to Kingsburg for a different take on the Christmas parade. Known as the Swedish Village, Kingsburg celebrates Santa Lucia’s (or Saint Lucy’s) Day every year on the first Saturday in December. It is said that to vividly celebrate Santa Lucia’s Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light. Given the enthusiasm behind the Festival of Lights Parade, I don’t think we have to worry about being left in the dark.
Keeping with tradition, the Festival of Lights was led by Santa Lucia herself. Dressed in white with a headdress of candles, she and her attendants lit the way for the lively production that followed. The Festival of Lights had forty-two entries consisting mostly of schools, churches and marching bands. And all of them – from floats and trucks to flutes and trumpets – were illuminated. Plenty of kids participated in this parade, too. Girl Scout Troop 2402 dressed as chefs in Santa’s kitchen while Boy Scout Troop 392 rode their popular Viking ship, decorated for the event with strings of colorful lights. Several schools paid tribute to Charlie Brown and his friends. The Kings River School Band chose the “Linus and Lucy” theme for their musical presentation and Washington Elementary School wished us all “A Very Peanuts Christmas.”
I have never seen any of the big, nationally acclaimed parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or the Rose Bowl Parade. I’m sure I’d be awestruck, but I know they wouldn’t touch my heart in the way the Central Valley parades I’ve attended have. A larger-than-life Kermit the Frog has nothing on the fancy footwork of the Reedley High School Pirate Marching Band, the First Congregational Church’s enormous rainbow flag or that bicycle-riding lobster.
My name is Mallory Moad, I saw thirteen parades this year and I loved every one of them!
You can find all of Mallory’s Valley Parade articles in KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section.