Despite the threat of rain showers, the sun came out about 11 a.m. Saturday to greet more than 400 participants and 40 entries that marched, rolled, trotted and strolled along seasonally decorated Mission Drive, Copenhagen Drive and adjacent streets for the annual Solvang Julefest Parade.
Spectators from near and far enjoyed the parade, snug in unusual winterwear for the city that enjoys 320 days of sunshine each year. Solvang Julefest events are presented by the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau on behalf of the City of Solvang with sponsorship support from the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association, Chumash Casino Resort, Root 246, King Frederik Inn, Wine Valley Inn, El Rancho Market and other area businesses.
Laura Kath was parade announcer again this year and serving as volunteer judges were area residents Steve Benjamin, Merle Blasjo and William Morton. The following are the “Award Winners” for the 2013 Julefest Parade:
Best Theme Oriented (The Gift of Children): Bethania Lutheran Church and Preschool
Founded in 1912 and celebrating 101 years of worship in Solvang, church members, family and friends joined together on this float featuring Bethania Preschool students singing of the joys of Christmas and invited the community to join in.
Best Float: First Baptist Church of Solvang
Familiar sights of the Christmas season were brought to life on this large float featuring portrayals of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Wise Men and angels.
Best Equestrian Entry: The Solvang Trolley carrying Solvang Chamber of Commerce Board Members
Pulled by two magnificent draft horses, the Solvang Trolley (also known as the Honen) carried Solvang Chamber of Commerce board members decked out in their holiday finery. The Solvang Trolley is a replica of an 1800s Danish streetcar trotting around the village since 1964; it has been owned and operated by the Orona family since 2007.
Best Vehicle Entry: Waste Management “Green” Truck
This massive green truck was festively decorated with live trees, bunting, garlands, flashing lights and a driver who admonished the crowd, “Don’t be in the dumps, we’ll pick you up!”
Best Musical Entry: Santa Ynez Valley Youth Jazz Band
Open to all youth in the area featuring student musicians from local schools--this talented group brought a festive selection of holiday music to the parade and energized the crowd.
Best Performance Group: Nimbus Danish Motorcycle Klub
Nimbus motorcycles were manufactured in Copenhagen from 1934 to 1959. This upbeat local group has restored and driven them in hundreds of parades — for this season, sporting dozens of decorations, reindeer antlers and lights — symbolizing the ties between Solvang and Denmark. Judges remarked that they enjoyed the fact that these vintage vehicles were still “performing.”
Best Overall Entry: Toytown by Julia Tipolt State Farm Insurance Agency
Incredibly creative interpretation of children’s fantasy toy shop, a true crowd pleaser from “Team Tipolt” of Solvang.
Many open houses and special events will be taking place throughout Solvang during Julefest now through the annual Christmas Tree Burn at Old Mission Santa Ines on Jan. 10. Click here for more information, call 805.688.6144, or stop by the Solvang Visitors Center at 1639 Copenhagen Drive (open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
— Laura Kath represents the Solvang Julefest Parade.