Santa Claus didn’t let the weather rain on his parade, as he made his annual visit to Santa Barbara on Friday night for the 60th anniversary of the Downtown Holiday Parade.
“I would have participated rain, hail or shine,” said Angus Sladden of Sydney, Australia.
Good thing for the rest of the boys and girls, the foul weather ceased as Santa Claus visited the Paseo Nuevo Center Court from 4 to 5:30 p.m. before the parade. Many holiday wishes were heard by Santa Barbara resident Ralph Brakus, also known as “Sandy,” who played the role of Santa this year.
“I want a Bugatti,” said Sam Gibson, who waited eagerly for his moment with Santa.
At 6:30 p.m., the parade made its way down State Street. The sidewalks were glittered with lights and holiday cheer. The rain abated as the approximately 50,000 spectators descended downtown for the parade. Streets were blocked off on State Street from Sola to Cota, where the parade concluded.
The tradition of the annual Downtown Holiday Parade began in the early 1950s when the community gathered to decorate State Street with a 40-foot-tall Douglas fir Christmas tree.
“Being born in the Northeast, it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit,” said 26-year-old Tom Levesque, a native of Cape Cod, Mass. “When you are surrounded by palm trees and beautiful weather, this parade really helped to set the mood.”
La Colina Junior High School’s marching band and the many other musical ensembles that performed Friday night were judged by Eric Heidner, official band judge. The La Colina ensemble shared Christmas classics as the crowds along State Street sang along.
Other judges this year for the Holiday Parade were Tracy Lehr of KEYT, Gail Heidner, Gail Zannon, Randy Weiss, Lynn Adams and Tamara Erickson.
“Dancing in front of the judges was my favorite part,” said Kaitlin Dutcher, a San Marcos High School varsity cheerleader.
The weather stayed clear during the festivities, perhaps a sign that Santa Barbara residents have been good this year.
(Brian Peddicord / Created in Santa Barbara video)