Kids on parade,
lights & al,
By DENNIS WYATT
209 staff reporter
Is there a Santa Claus?
Ask any one of the thousands of kids who will line Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca on Saturday bundled up against the 45-degree chill. They know the answer.
The bright lights of 80 plus entries in the Manteca Chamber of Commerce twilight Christmas parade that starts at 5 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Library Park and makes its way through downtown on Yosemite Avenue to Manteca High will dance in their eyes. They will be smiles and exclamations for the guy who was bringing up the rear of the procession — Santa Claus himself.
From the response he’ll get, you’ll think he was one of the Fab Four who had just landed in New York City on Feb. 7, 1964 to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Santa is just part of the lure that will bring as many as 10,000 people downtown to line curbs and sidewalks alike for the 43rd annual parade.
Where else can you find thousands of kids — little and big — parading down the street spreading holiday cheer?
It will be cool Saturday evening to be a Brock Elliott School eighth grader playing in the band while wearing a blinking red Rudolph noose.
It will be sweet to be a business owner to spend a few days cobbling together a huge gingerbread house complete with hundreds of bright Christmas lights so you could pull it down Yosemite Avenue to the delight of thousands.
It will be blast to be a big kid maneuvering your power wheelchair decked out with angels and holly — plus Christmas lights — from the railroad tracks to Garfield Avenue.
And it will be heart-warming to watch one and all sing, march, play music, cart wheel, ride a horse or simply drive down the street and wave while thousands upon thousands of holiday lights lit the way.
By comparison the electric light parade down Main Street at Disneyland is — there’s no delicate way to put this — Mickey Mouse.
Sure, Disney Inc., can put on a professional and seemingly perfect show. But who’d trade that for seeing a dozen upon dozens of young girls from Dance and Cheer Stars decked out in yellow hoodies and Santa hats spreading cheer as they moved to the music of the season? You can almost hear them giggling as they practice their routine in the days leading up to Saturday.
Manteca’s 43rd edition of twilight Christmas parade magic included JROTC cadets, Manteca Youth Focus titleholders, church groups, Scouts, and more.
And it will be tough to beat the sound of more than a dozen bands who always have a strong showing of members wearing Santa hats as they march to the tune of Christmas songs.
Even the elementary bands that aren’t exactly dialed in yet always sound great. Marching music is always better when it is played by your kid, the neighbor boy down the street or the young girl who plays soccer on Saturdays on a team coached by one of your co-workers.
And how can a Disney character on parade beat literally hundreds upon of hundreds of kids — cheerleaders, gymnasts, youth football players, Cub Scouts, church group members, preschoolers and others — spreading Christmas cheer with their smiles as they ventured down Yosemite from Library Park to Manteca High?
Mickey Mouse, when he makes his appearance during parades, may trigger excitement down at Disneyland. But he can never match the wide-eyed wonder and glow on a 5-year-old’s cheeks as she jumps up and down pointing to the lead fire engine at the parade’s rear as she practically shouts, “Mommy! Mommy! Look its Santa Claus!”
The most magical place on earth Saturday evening won’t be in Anaheim. It will be along Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.
Other Christmas events
*HOSPICE TREE LIGHTING: The 2015 San Joaquin Hospice Tree of Lights ceremony takes place on Wednesday, Dec., 2, at 6 p.m. at Doctors Hospital, North Street and Cottage Avenue. Ripon’s hospice tree lighting is Friday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. at the Mistlin Fountain Park, Main and Oak streets. For more information go to hospicecj.org/treeoflight
*CHRISTMAS AT THE CENTER: Christmas at the Center hosted by Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum and Veronica DeBrum takes place Thursday, Dec. 3. It starts at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center Street, with the lighting of the Christmas tree. Those attending are invited to bring a homemade ornament to hang on the tree after the lighting ceremony takes place. Then at 7 p.m. at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, there will be free children’s games, face painting, craft stations, local entertainment, live music, cookies, and hot chocolate. There will also be photos with Santa and a cookie decorating station. Participants are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the “For Kids’ Sake” project this Christmas. The evening is brought to you by the Manteca Senior Center, Senior Advisory Committee, Youth Advisory Commission, City of Manteca, and the Manteca Parks and Recreation Department.
*HOLIDAY STREET FAIR: The Manteca Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its annual Holiday Street Fair and Downtown Twilight Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 5, with the street fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the parade starting at 5 p.m. There is a $50 entry for the parade. Street fair booths are available for $200 for food, $125 for commercial, and $75 for crafts or non-profits. For information call 823.6121 or go on line at www.manteca.org.
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA & MRS. CLAUS: Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus is Saturday, Dec. 5, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Manteca Presbyterian Church, 275 N. Main St. It includes crafts for sale, a drawing for Christmas baskets, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claud. The price is $5 per adult, $3 for children 6 to 12, and free those 5 and under.
MANTECA COMMUNITY CHOIR CHRISTMAS CONCERT: The Manteca Community Choir's Christmas cantata is Sunday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. at Manteca Presbyterian Church on North and Main. This year's cantata is called "A Thrill of Hope." It is slightly under one hour and contains a mixture of different styles.
*BREAKFAST WITH SANTA: The Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, will host the annual Breakfast with Santa event on Saturday, Dec. 12, beginning at 9 a.m. Parents and grandparents are invited to bring children ages 10 and under to this festive breakfast, where each child will have a photo taken with Santa, make a Christmas craft, and receive a small gift from Santa. Tickets are $7 per person and are sold only in advance; they may be purchased now at the Senior Center. There are only 125 children’s tickets sold for this event. Contact the Senior Center with any questions at (209) 456.8650.