Santa Paula Times

Santa Claus was at the end of a string of Santa Paula Fire Department engines, to the delight of the audience, which cheered on their jolly friend. Santa was waving and calling holiday greetings - and promising all the boys and girls that he won’t forget them come December 25 - from atop the department’s 1923 Seagrave Engine #1. Driving the engine is Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Fildes. (Photo by Craig Mailloux)

Optimist Christmas Parade draws thousands for ‘A Musical Christmas’

December 01, 2010
Santa Paula News

What might have been a record crowd braved overcast skies and chilly weather to line Main Street for Saturday’s 61st Annual Optimist Club Christmas Parade, where tinsel and tunes ruled the day.

Grand Marshal Helen Hale, longtime Santa Paula educator, led the long procession. The 98-year-old Hale - wearing a bright Santa hat - waved delightedly from a convertible to the crowds that included generations of former students. And there were plenty of former students calling out “Mrs. Hale!”, as the dynamo did not fully retire until several years ago.

“It was a great parade!” exclaimed Coordinator Ron Merson, who has organized the procession for 29 years. “The weather was very nice, the crowd was larger than ever, and we are getting a lot of nice comments already. It makes it me feel good to have all the people come to see the parade and enjoy themselves.”

And Merson said he had his thoughts during the parade: “The parade gives us all a moment to get away from our worries and troubles, the problems in the world, and time to just enjoy ourselves and smile.... It sounds corny maybe, but that’s how I felt.”

It was obvious that the thousands of parade-goers and more than 60 entries felt the same way, with cheers and waves for the participants and their entries, ranging from the Isbell Middle School and Santa Paula High School Marching bands to the Classique Car Club, Unbelievable Bike Club and the Pachuco Car Club. Paraders went all out for the holidays and musical theme, including Juano & Friends, the popular local band, playing festive music from a decorated flatbed truck.

Kids went crazy over McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog and later his canine public safety companion Sparky the Fire Dog, both waving grandly from police and fire vehicles. The Santa Paula Police Mounted Unit and numerous Tactical Units (think the massive SPPD Dragoon) led the parade, followed by Boy Scout Troop & Packs Color Guard and the 187th Airborne - the most decorated group in history - Color Guard.

Veterans including Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043, Korean War Veterans Association-Ventura County Chapter 56 and Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County galore were also warmly applauded and received salutes from the grateful audience.

Popular Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long rode in a signature red car matching her hair, and Vice Mayor Fred Robinson, accompanied by founder/coordinator Carla Edwards, waved from the Citrus Classic Hot Air Balloon Festival float that honored various musical groups that support the annual event.

It wasn’t a stretch for the SPHS Cheer & Pep Squad to offer high kicks and spirited yells, and Rozzie the Clown (Darlene Berry) led a cluster of clowning sidekicks behind her holiday decked out car. Combined Girl Scout Troops were “Marching with Music!” wearing coordinated T-shirts with handmade percussion instruments to keep time with the songs they were singing.

Santa Clara Valley Bank and Santa Paula Community Bank were among the business entries that showed their community support. St. Vincent de Paul offered the lovely St. Sebastian Choir, and the Classique Touch Bike and Car Clubs - showing off hydraulic power - showed once again why they are crowd favorites.

The holiday accessorized Ventura County Recumbent Riders were down low and loving it, while the Topa Topa Flywheelers again proved why their long-line of antique tractors are always a hit. American Heritage Girl Scouts of St. Sebastian were the perfect lead-in to the Ventura County Model A Ford Club and the Isbell Middle School ASPIRE Condors in brightly colored uniforms.

The American Cancer Society Santa Paula Relay for Life showed the same spirit that makes theirs the most successful fundraiser in the county, and The Minis - darling tiny horses with delicate ankles drawing small decorated carts - drew delighted comments. “From Bethlehem to Santa Paula” was the elaborate Our Lady of Guadalupe Float that featured a Nativity Scene and contemporary Queen, and Children of Temple Milagros offered smart steps.

Pollo Bravo Restaurant’s resident Rooster was a welcome sight, and didn’t seem bothered that he was being followed by the JetHawks Baseball Team of area kids. Poder Popular De Santa Paula wore traditional Christmas costumes and dress from Mexico, and Valle De Comunidad offered children listening to how “A King is Born.”

CATS Development & C. A. Rasmussen, Inc. rode in a vintage holiday red Ford truck, and Santa Paula Flores Brothers/Kenpo Karate Martial Arts School students showed even kids can be disciplined masters.

United Car Clubs of Ventura County showed sweet rides, La “M” 103.7 FM had a decorated van, and McKevett School students were proud of their Centennial float that detailed each decade of the historic campus. Rancho La Tunera showed off their high-stepping and dancing Frisian and Andalusia horses, and passengers and watchers alike enjoyed the Conejo Valley Model A Club. Santa Paula Little League 2010 Division Champions were loudly applauded, as was the Red Dragons-AYSO Soccer under 6 kids.

Santa Paula Hospital went all out with “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” but he didn’t have a chance with Ventura County Healthcare Agency Executive Director Mike Powers and son Charlie, who was born at SPH, along for the ride. And the group sent a special Merry Christmas to Dr. Sam Edwards.

Vista Cover Care Center had its frost-dusted transporter with happy residents waving to the crowd, Rancho Los Nietos featured fine steeds ridden by authentically dressed Charros, and Southwest Water showed off an impressive piece of equipment. McCoy’s Automotive featured a holiday cautionary tale of not drinking and driving.

Thee Artistics Bike Club was a welcome entry, and the Santa Paula Junior Cardinals Football Team received cheers for being the 2010 Champions. The Ventura County Chapter of the Manx Club paraded their impressive dune buggies, and Santa Paula Church of Christ offered Christmas carolers singing religious songs.

Gersom Camacho was a hit with the crowd, and Santa Paula Youth Football & Cheer cheered on the procession. ChickyWeedy’s encouraged folks to visit their new eatery, and PERC Water, builder/owner/operator of the water recycling plant, offered a seasonal entry. Many Meals’ weekly dinner program showed the true spirit of giving, and the Santa Paula Future Farmers of America rode a wagon reaffirming their dedication to agriculture.

The man of the hour was at the end of a string of Santa Paula Fire Department engines as Santa Claus finally appeared, to the delight of the audience, which cheered on their jolly friend. Santa was waving and calling holiday greetings - and promising all the boys and girls that he won’t forget them come December 25 - from atop the department’s 1923 Seagrave Engine #1.

Winners of the 2010 Christmas Parade, “A Musical Christmas” were:

SWEEPSTAKES (Best use of Theme): “From Bethlehem to Santa Paula” - Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

EQUESTRIAN: 1st Rancho LaTunera, 2nd Christine Leech and Elaine Cavaletto Miniature Horses.

NOVELTY YOUTH: 1st Children of Templo Milagros, 2nd Classic Touch Bike Club.

NOVELTY ADULT: 1st Citrus Capital Clowns, 2nd Poder Popular.

FLOAT: 1st Santa Paula Hospital - “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,”

2nd Juano & Friends Band.

AUTO - SINGLE: 1st ChickyWeedy’s, 2nd CATS Development & C.A. Rasmussen, Inc.

AUTO - CLUB: 1st Conejo Valley Model A Ford Club, 2nd United Car Clubs.

MARCHING GROUP/DRILL TEAM: 1st Santa Paula High School Marching Band, 2nd Isbell Middle School Band.

To make arrangements to pickup trophies you have not received, call Ron Merson at 525-9439 after 7 p.m.