About 20,000 people of all ages lined North Santa Cruz Avenue and Main Street early Saturday morning for the town's 55th annual Los Gatos Children’s Christmas and Holidays Parade.
Starting at the corner of Almendra and North Santa Cruz avenues, and all the way to , more than 240 entries with a reported 10,000 participants, delighted the largest crowd ever to come to town for the event.
, the processional marks the official start of the holiday season in Los Gatos.
According to organizers, the record attendance this year might have made the parade the largest one yet in town history and the biggest one on the West Coast. Reason for the swelling number of spectators was the cancellation of the San Jose Holiday Parade due to financial difficulties, they said.
Vice President Jim Thrall said the influx of participants and parade-goers has made it the largest parade in California.
“It’s definitely one of the largest, if not the largest we have ever had,” concurred Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police officer Sam Wonnell, who was monitoring public safety during the parade. “Aside from a couple of separated children that were reunited promptly, everyone is behaving themselves and having a good time.”
Residents can also thank the efforts of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Amateur Radio Emergency Service/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service () for a safe and peaceful event, said spokeswoman Sandy Vaurs.
The service's nine members provided assistance to lost children and parents during the event and facilitated medical emergencies and the return of lost items to the public.
Butch Lumby was this year's parade chairman and has been involved with the event for more than 35 years. He, along with 200 volunteers, also assisted in its organization. The event's official sponsors are the and the organization.
This year's grand marshal is recently retired educator , who had been the Los Gatos High School Performing Arts Department chairperson for 29 years. Pleasant was among the first to start the parade along with some of her former students.
The mile-long-plus march was colorful in more ways than one, from Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts participating, to school bands and costumed dancers, to BMX riders and a duck mobile; all were greeted with enthusiastic waves from adorable children anxious to see what would come up next around the corner.
Santa Claus, riding in a sleigh, was one of the last but much-anticipated entries. He was welcomed by cheers, whistles, applause and kids' squeals of joy.
Judi Greenberg, from the Los Gatos Great Dane Drill Team (sponsored by ) was thankful for being in the parade and glad that the weather turned out so well, despite a rain forecast.
Los Gatos residents Dan and Tabitha Jacobson, along with daughters Eva and Sophie, were one of the many families that came out to enjoy the parade.
"A lot of people come out to see it because it's got that hometown feel," Tabitha said.
When asked what part of the parade she liked best, 4-year-old Eva replied, "Watermelon," who then proceeded to take a bite out of a piece of the fruit her parents had brought for her to snack on.
Be it Santa, watermelon, or the great entries that participated, each person who attended Saturday's event seemed to revel in the festivities.