This year’s theme of the annual Solvang Julefest Parade was “Sharing Holiday Cheer” and the sun shone warmly Saturday on 750-plus participants in 50 parade entries as they marched, rolled, trotted and strolled along festively decorated Mission Drive, Copenhagen Drive and adjacent streets. Thousands of spectators from near and far enjoyed the parade as well as free, post-parade visits with Santa in his sleigh in Solvang Park.
The Julefest Parade and all Julefest events are sponsored by the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau under the leadership of executive director Tracy Farhad and supported by the City of Solvang, Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association and dozens of local businesses. Shannon Hazard served as parade coordinator and Laura Kath was parade announcer. Serving as volunteer judges for this year’s parade were area residents Joan Blasjo, Bill Peden, Kim Peden and William Morton. Hazard announced the following “Award Winners” for the 2012 Julefest Paradem and trophies were given to:
» Best Theme Oriented (Sharing Holiday Cheer): Wandering Dog Wine Bar
Led by rescue dog mascots Lucy and Bentley, with wagging tails along with their human owners and friends, this strolling group of “wine hounds” fully embraced the concept of sharing cheer.
» Best Float: 26th Annual Community Nativity Pageant
Santa Ynez Valley area churches united to bring the “Christmas Story” to life on this large float featuring portrayals of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Wise Men and angels accompanied by shepherds and live animals. The Nativity Pageant will be held this year on Dec. 15 at the outdoor Solvang Festival Theater, 420 Second St. Enjoy a choir, actors in traditional costumes, and live animals on stage. There are two free performances at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., with seating on a first-come, first-entertained basis.
» Best Equestrian Entry: Los Padres Trail Riders
Horses and riders were decked out in holiday finery and made for an impressive sight trotting along the route. This group of equestrians is dedicated to the maintenance, development and advancement of Santa Barbara County trails, trail use and horseback riding.
» Best Vehicle Entry: 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 and has been trotting around the village since 1964. It has been owned and operated by the Orona family since 2007.
» Best Musical Entry: Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Marching Band
Under the direction of Cameron Clarno and Drum Majors Colson Cluff, Noah Wietz and Kathy Benson, this group of talented musicians brought a festive selection of holiday music to the parade.
» Best Performance Group: South Coast Karate
Under the direction of Brian Jordan, colorfully uniformed young students performed a series of synchronized martial arts moves and concluded with a resounding Merry Christmas shout out to the delight of the crowd.
» Best Overall Entry: Solvang School Music Department and Viking Warrior Voices
Under the direction of Matthew Schick and Lynni Gilfrey, the Solvang School Music Department and Viking Warrior Voices, a large group of children in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, shared their enthusiastic holiday cheer with favorite seasonal songs.
Through Jan. 4, many open houses, holiday musicals and special events will be taking place throughout Solvang during Julefest. 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 is media relations director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau.