Los Gatos knows how to celebrate the holidays.
Earlier this month, on Dec. 3, the town lit up its Christmas tree, and the following day showcased its. Thousands lined North Santa Cruz Avenue and Main Street as the festivities began.
Parade chairman Butch Lundy, event volunteer for 28 years, said more than 7,200 people participated.
Lundy became chairman after his brother-in-law, Reed Graham, died a year and half ago. "It was an automatic thing," Lundy said. "They said, 'You're doing it.' That's how I got the job, almost by default."
With the sun piercing through cloudy skies, 260 entries marched from Almendra to North Santa Cruz avenues, to Main Street and toward for more than a mile.
Among the entries were 12 middle and high school marching bands, the bag pipers, lots of horses, dogs and Santa Claus.
The parade's grand marshal this year was Joanne Rodgers, honored for dedicating more than 25 years to serving youth, families and schools in Los Gatos. Rodgers also co-founded the nonprofit organization Community Against Substance Abuse and has served in numerous committees, boards and parent teacher organizations.
Parade sponsors—Los Gatos Lions Club, Los Gatos Saratoga Recreation, Los Gatos Christmas Foundation and the donated all services during the two-hour event, Lundy said.
Gene Goldberg, 82, former town community education and recreation director, started the parade in 1957, allowing a group of children from the town to walk down the same route that the parade traversed Dec. 4. He remembered marching with about 25 kids in a police car at 6 p.m. on the first Saturday in December.
"By the next year, we had about 150 kids," recalled Goldberg, who lives in San Jose. "It's now the largest children's Christmas parade in California." He estimated that about 1,500 children participated in the parade, many from Los Gatos schools, but some from Saratoga and San Jose.
Los Gatos Vice Mayor Steve Rice, who's served on the Town Council for two years, described the parade as one of the town's greatest traditions. He remembers riding in it when he was 4, with his grandfather, then mayor.
Liza Gull, 8, a third-grader from , was excited to be participating for the third time with some of her classmates.
"I like to watch the parade and I really enjoy all the horses and the dog entries," she said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Santa this year."