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Local News

On a Frosty Night, Annual Milpas Holiday Parade Features Dancing, Singing, Bands

Over 50 organizations, thousands of spectators help get Santa Barbara’s Eastside in Christmas spirit

BRAVO! students march in the annual Milpas Holiday Parade on Milpas Street on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside. Among the bands taking center stage in the holiday parade were ones from surrounding Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High schools. Click to view larger
BRAVO! students march in the annual Milpas Holiday Parade on Milpas Street on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside. Among the bands taking center stage in the holiday parade were ones from surrounding Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High schools. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Spectators and parade-goers couldn’t resist dancing and singing when the sounds of local groups performing live banda music and holiday tunes filled Santa Barbara’s Eastside on Saturday night.

Even the young students at Franklin School bounced their heads and moved their feet.

Colorful lights shed a holiday glow on the street as more than 3,000 locals braved the cold to watch the annual Milpas Holiday Parade.

Chairs and blankets lined both sides of Milpas Street, starting at East Canon Perdido and going all the way to East Mason Street, about a mile away.

The event, organized by the Milpas Community Association, featured low-rider classic cars wrapped in green and red lights, Ballet Folklorico dancers twirling their dresses and more than 50 local groups.

“What makes this unique is the community-centric elements,” said Sharon Byrne, Milpas Community Association executive director. “We want people to play their music loud and proud and rev their car engines.”

With decorative holiday floats and marching bands, all Eastside area schools were participating this year, Byrne said.

Among the bands taking center stage in the holiday parade were ones from nearby Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High schools.

Sporting red and white tights — resembling the stripes on candy canes — Santa Barbara Unified School District trombone teacher Madalena Fossatti was surrounded by more than 30 student musicians.

Efrain - Banda performed live Saturday night at the annual Milpas Holiday Parade. Click to view larger
Efrain - Banda performed live Saturday night at the annual Milpas Holiday Parade. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

She paced alongside students with BRAVO!, a free after-school band and orchestra program in the district’s elementary schools.

Students’ trombones and bass clarinets were wrapped in miniature holiday lights, and the group was excited to perform “Jingle Bell Rock.”

“This parade is always fun and all of the kids live in the area,” Fossatti said. “Everyone knows each other. BRAVO! is also great opportunity for the children to learn music in school.”

Marie Sapiens Vazquez, a Santa Barbara native and Santa Barbara High alumna, was bundled up next to her family to watch the parade and keep an eye out for her daughter marching with the Dons’ band.

“I see a lot of familiar faces at this parade,” she said. “It’s heartwarming to see the community together to celebrate the holiday spirit. We are all one big family.”

Police Chief Lori Luhnow and City Councilman Jason Dominguez, who represent the Eastside’s District 1, were recognized as this year’s parade grand marshals.

The two opened the celebration and walked together, accompanied by a classic 1957 Chevrolet police car and youth from the Santa Barbara Police Activities League.

Police Officer Adrian Gutierrez, a longtime SBPD beat coordinator, also received a special honor this year for his service.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Locals driving vintage and classic cars participated Saturday night in the annual Milpas Holiday Parade. Click to view larger
Locals driving vintage and classic cars participated Saturday night in the annual Milpas Holiday Parade. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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