Hundreds braved the cold last week for the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce’s 28th Downtown Christmas Parade.
Themed “A Disney Christmas,” the parade featured 65 entries, including from several businesses and local nonprofits. School bands, Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse also took part.
“It went great,” said Jerry Knoester, the chamber’s interim executive director. “When they brought the flag out, as a Vietnam veteran, that gave me chills.”
Accompanying the American flag were students from Pacheco High School. They used their appearance to pay tribute to Brett Lee, the school’s first principal; Lee died of cancer Nov. 26. Pacheco cheerleaders and band members marched down Sixth Street reciting “Brett Strong” and “Panther Strong,” which became ubiquitous on the high school campus after Lee announced his illness.
In keeping with the theme, many children donned mouse ears, Disney characters were featured on floats and Disney movies, such as “Toy Story” and “Cars,” were prominent parts of several entries.
“We had the most entries we ever had,” said Chamber President Geneva Brett. “People really captured the theme this year. Not every entry has to follow the theme, but this year I saw a lot of people incorporate Disney.”
The parade also included a “Duck Dynasty” entry, karate demonstrations, zumba dancing and various Christmas carols performed by preschool children and the Los Banos High School band.
Brett said she thought turnout was really good considering how cold it was last Friday night.
The parade concluded with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Henry Miller Plaza and awards for various parade entry categories.
Pacheco High School cheerleaders received the Mayor’s Award and A&S Recycling was given the Arts Council Award.
The Chamber President’s Award went to the Pacheco High Band and the American Legion and the Parade Sponsors Award was given to Morning Star Packing Co. Announcer Joe Ferry received recognition for 22 years of doing parade play-by-play.
Brett said next year she would like the chamber to decide on a theme in January or February to give participants nearly a year to plan and gather the funds required to build their floats.