A handful of float builders gathered in a Los Banos home last week to start on their entry to the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce's 27th annual Downtown Christmas Parade.
"It's going to take us about a week to build our float," said Chandra Lee, chairwoman of the Los Banos effort for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
The annual holiday parade draws about 1,000 revelers and averages more than 50 parade entries, including trailers, hot rods, horseback riders and floats of all kinds. This year's theme is "It's a Wonderful Life," which is taken from the 1946 Frank Capra film where George Bailey questions his existence on Christmas Eve. The parade is 6 p.m. Dec. 7.
Lee said her group's theme will add a couple of words to the movie title: "It's a Wonderful Life Without Cancer."
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The Relay crew wrapped faux gifts Wednesday to decorate their wintery-themed offering, and tagged candy canes with a Relay sticker sporting the co-chairwomen's phone numbers, which the roughly 20 marchers and riders will throw to onlookers from the float.
"We want the community to be more aware of how much cancer affects our community, and have them get an early start on Relay for Life," Lee said, adding that this year's 24-hour session is planned for June 1.
President Geneva Brett said the chamber is involved in the parade because it is an event for the people of Los Banos.
"Part of the chamber's mission is to promote the community and quality of life," Brett said.
Also serving as a parade judge, Brett recommended groups thoroughly explain themselves on their applications, which are read aloud during the parade. She said any group that can incorporate music or singing has a leg up.
Annually, the Downtown Parade ventures north up Sixth Street and ends in Henry Miller Plaza, where winners are crowned and the Los Banos High School choir sings carols.
The Los Banos Relay broke the $100,000 mark last year in fund raising. To get involved in the local Relay effort, contact Lee at (530) 228-4607 or Angela Thissen at (209) 658-4568, or go to www.relayforlife. org/losbanosca.
The chamber will continue to take parade entries through Dec. 3. For more information, call the office at (209) 826-2495.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.