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Santa Barbara Welcomes the Holiday Season With State Street Parade

Thousands of people line the streets to watch the 63rd annual parade featuring marching bands, dancers, floats and the first-ever droid grand marshal

Santa Barbara’s annual holiday parade featured Star Wars’ R2-D2 as the Grand Marshal leading dozens of marching bands, floats and community groups down State Street Friday night.
Santa Barbara’s annual holiday parade featured Star Wars’ R2-D2 as the Grand Marshal leading dozens of marching bands, floats and community groups down State Street Friday night.  (Fritz Olenberger photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk gallery.]

No, the grand marshal of the Santa Barbara Downtown Holiday Parade Friday night wasn't Alan Thicke or Lakey Peterson or any other normal celebrity.

This year, the grand marshal was out of this world. R2-D2, the diminutive droid with staying power spanning four decades, led a holiday parade before thousands of people lining State Street.

"Are you ready for the downtown holiday parade?" boomed KEYT reporter John Palminteri, the parade's master of ceremonies. 

As R2-D2 approached the crowd of onlookers, led by Stormtroopers carrying light sabers, Palminteri screamed: "Let's have a round of applause for R2-D2 from Star Wars!"

Then Palminteri posed a question: "What's your holiday greeting for Santa Barbara?"

R2D2, perhaps flustered that he was appearing without his partner C-3PO, could only offer a synthesized whistle in response. 

The State Street crowd included people from all over Santa Barbara County.

"The parade is a wonderful celebration of community," said Michael Cox, who moved to Santa Barbara with his wife, Maggie, and 5-year-old son, Thatcher, earlier this year.

Thatcher said he liked R2-D2. He's even seen the original movie, encouraged by his father. Thatcher oohed and aahed as the floats strolled up State Street.

"I like all the lights and colors," he said. 

The other parade participants included marching bands, dance groups, floats and balloons from numerous community groups. 

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson rode in a blue convertible sports car, the Dos Pueblos High School Marching Band, cheer and leadership groups energized and excited the crowd, and Sonos employees rode bicycles while some hoisted an inflatable globe. 

Nearly 90 groups participated in the 63rd Annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade, which had the theme "World A' Glow," on a chilly, but comfortable Santa Barbara night.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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.

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