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Community Celebrates Season With Annual Festival
Parade watchers had plenty to applaud, savvy shoppers could find some unique items and good bargains, and there was even a chance for youngsters to share their Christmas wishes with Santa Claus.

Riverbank played host to its annual Christmas Festival on Saturday, offering some arts, crafts and merchandise booths at the Community Center as well as downtown on Third Street. Booths on Third offered everything from Vegan homemade bath soaps to jewelry and decorative garden rocks. Festivities kicked off at 2 p.m. and also included live musical entertainment at the Plaza del Rio before the entries lined up for the parade. With Citizen of the Year Paulette Roberson serving as Grand Marshal, the nearly hour-long parade also included dancing horses, the music of the Enochs High marching band, local scout troops, churches, businesses and more.

"We have 200 Girl Scouts and a float," said Donna Meister, helping coordinate the Golden River Girl Scouts as they got ready for the late afternoon parade start. "We come from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale, two years' running we've taken first place with our float."

Inside the Community Center, shoppers Sarah Mayville of Riverbank was looking over the items with her nieces, Mariah Jameson and Cierra Jameson, visiting from Sacramento. They planned to attend the parade as well.

Helping coordinate the festivities was local businessman Scott Pettit of Karate for Kids, which also had an entry in the parade and did a demonstration of their martial arts, breaking boards, in front of the reviewing stand for the judges and the audience.

"I was so proud of Riverbank," Pettit said of the festival going off smoothly. "The sponsors Chip and Sharon Langman, Riverbank Lions Club and Riverbank Pizza Plus who made the event financially feasible. The volunteers and city staff who made this event what it was."

Following the parade, Riverbank librarian Vicky Holt-Angulo provided a reading of 'Twas the night before Christmas, then emcee Alan Sanchez, from Channel 31's 'Good Day Sacramento' took to the Plaza and, joined by Santa and Mrs. Claus, did the countdown to light the Community Christmas Tree. Names on special ornaments for the tree were read by Sanchez and children had the opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa and let him know some of their holiday wishes.

Pettit said he was very pleased with the event and noted that having many people get involved just added to the overall success.

"The entries and craft vendors who were the substance of the event and the citizens of Riverbank who showed up en masse and enjoyed the event," Pettit said of some highlights. "It was so worth all of the effort to stage the event, I can't wait to do it again next year."

City Mayor Virginia Madueno echoed the sentiment.

"Last year was our first year doing the parade at night and it has gotten bigger this year. Definitely in my opinion, this kicks off the holiday," Madueno said. "I'm so proud of the community, the volunteers that put this together; this couldn't be a prouder moment."

Here is the list of parade category first place winners, as provided by City Administrative Assistant Luanne Bain. She, along with Daryl Daniel of Sno White Drive-In, were judges; equestrian entries were judged by Alice Lawellin.

Color Guard: RHS NJROTC; Floats, Non-Profit - Riverbank Raiders Football and Cheer; Floats, Business - Riverbank Parks and Recreation; Floats, Walking Group - Golden River Girl Scouts; Floats, School - RHS Drama; Floats, Church - New Life Church.

Novelty, Costume - Little Caesars; Novelty, Animal - Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance; Walking Group - Cub Scout Pack 10.

Motorcycle Club - River Rats; Automobiles, Vintage Pre 1948 - 1937 Chevy sedan, owned by Carlos Torres; Automobiles, Late Model 1966 and up - Riverbank Lions Club.

Equestrian Entries

Charro/Charra, Open - Charro Association; Plain Western Senior, Male - David Bricknell and Spencer; Future Horseman 8 and under - Hailey Lopes and Twinkie; Miniature Horse - Connie Hawkins and Pogonip; Novelty Fiesta Costume - Melanie Overby and Athena.

Best Overall Trophy

Golden River Girl Scouts