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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 1:23 pm | Fair 62º


Downtown Holiday Parade Going to Canine Heroes

Four-legged grand marshals served in debris flow search and rescue efforts

Mojo with Tracee Walker.
Mojo with Tracee Walker. (Courtesy photo)
Rica, with Sheila Malavasi.
Rica, with Sheila Malavasi. (Courtesy photo)

When it comes to securing a grand marshal, the Holiday Parade production staff of Downtown Santa Barbara (DSB) has always pursued, well, a bit of diversity.

From local actor-residents, such as Michael Imperioli and Noah Wyle, to a creature who lives in a pineapple under the sea (Sponge Bob Square Pants), to an intergalactic freedom fighter (R2-D2), the grand marshal has always been a delightful addition to the nighttime parade. And this year is no exception.
“We are pleased to announce that we have not one but four grand marshals — four of the heroic rescue dogs from Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue,” said Kate Schwab, DSB marketing and communications director.

“These dogs were vital to the Montecito debris flow rescue operation; quite literally, they saved lives,” she said.

“With our theme, Santa Barbara Shines, and our goal of bringing a bit of closure one year after the recent disasters, these teams (four dogs, four handlers) are the perfect four-footed grand marshalls for the 66th Annual Downtown SB Holiday Parade, presented by Consumer Fire Products, Inc.,” Schwab said.

With these brave dogs serving in this important role, DSB tapped the fitting grand marshal sponsor (and annual parade participant) Lemos Feed & Pet Supply. General manager Paul Benedix was quick to sign on.

“Lemos Feed & Pet Supply is honored to sponsor this year’s grand marshals, paying tribute to the Santa Barbara Search and Rescue team and their hardworking dogs,” he said.

“As our communities continue to heal from the events of this past year, these dogs and their volunteer handlers stand ready to find, render aid and save the lives of those in greatest need,” Benedix said.

“Lemos is thankful for their sacrifice and service, and for the opportunity to support our communities. We are #805strong,” he said.
Riding in the four-seat Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo, the four K9 teams include: Reilly, a 4-year-old Dutch shepard with partner Ann Mare Cullen; Rica, a 6-year-old German shepard with partner Sheila Malavasi; MacGyver, a 5-year-old red-tri Australian shepard with partner Rick Stein; and Mojo, a 10-year-old border collie with partner Tracee Walker

“MacGyver would rather search and play tug than eat,” said Stein.

“Mojo loves her job – as well as any squeaky toy,” Walker said.

“Rica will do anything for a ball,” said handler Malavasi.

As for Reilly, this one is a “high energy dog bred to work,” said Cullen.

Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) is a volunteer organization dedicated to providing professional search and rescue capabilities to the Sheriff’s Office and the residents of Santa Barbara County.

Its goal is to locate, access, render aid and provide quality expedient services 24/7 to people in distress, and minimize injury and loss of life.

Together, Lemos and Downtown Santa Barbara are donating $500 to SBCSAR.
Other Holiday Parade sponsors: American Riviera Bank, Hotel Californian, Kimpton Canary Hotel, Marborg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust, Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants, Santa Barbara Beautiful, Santa Barbara Independent.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival, The Eagle Inn, The Towbes Group, Union Bank, VOICE magazine, and Zoom Video Communications.
The 66th Annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade will take place on 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, starting at Sola St. and continuing down State to Cota Street.

For more information about volunteering for the Holiday Parade, or participation in the Prince & Fairy contest, contact Lisa McCorkle, holiday parade producer, at [email protected]

— Kate Schwab for Downtown Santa Barbara.


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