The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization announced Tuesday that Olympic gold medalist Kami Craig will serve as this year’s celebrity grand marshal for the 60th Annual Downtown Holiday Parade.
At 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30, the much-anticipated parade will make its way down State Street amid magnificent marching bands, fabulous floats and spectacular performance groups.
Presiding over the 2012 parade, Craig is a professional water polo player who claimed her spot on the pool deck at age 4 and is known as one of the top centers in women’s water polo. By age 12, she was applying her swimming skills to the sport of water polo and quickly began to dominate the water.
She went on to win a league championship as a freshman at Santa Ynez High School and as a junior at Santa Barbara High School. She helped lead her team to a CIF title her junior and senior years and was named CIF MVP and All-American first team as a senior. She still holds the Santa Barbara High School record for single-season goals (123) and the most goals scored in one game (nine). Both the Los Angeles Times and the Santa Barbara News-Press named her Player of the Year.
Craig went on to play water polo at the collegiate level at USC, where she held high scoring records all four years from the tough center position. During her time at USC, she was named to the 2006 MPSF All-Freshman Team, received All-American honorable mention, took home the 2010 National Championship and was the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Peter J. Cutino Award as college game’s best player.
While at USC, Craig was selected to play on the Women’s Senior National Team, whose members represent the United States at top international events, including FINA World Championships, Pan American Games, FINA World Cup, FINA World League, Holiday Cup and the Olympic Games. She competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, where she scored six goals to help her team bring home the silver medal.
She played her first professional season in Greece in 2011 and most recently returned to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where she again recorded six goals to help Team USA win the gold medal.
When Craig is not in the pool, she focuses her energy on public and motivational speaking at area schools and club teams. Sh grew up with learning disabilities, so through her speaking she shares the challenges and obstacles that she faced and overcame to ultimately reach her goals.
The parade will also feature the Holiday Prince and Fairy riding in a horse drawn carriage, and Santa Claus, the most anticipated appearance of the season, will conclude the festivities. A meet-and-greet with Santa Claus will take place in Paseo Nuevo from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30.
The parade is free and will begin at 6:30 p.m. on State Street at Sola Street and will conclude at Cota Street. For more information, click here or call the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization at 805.962.2098 x22.
— Ashleigh Davis represents the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization.