Friends, neighbors and family members flocked to the streets of Downtown Riverbank over the weekend. Not to partake of Thanksgiving leftovers, but to kick off the local celebration of Christmas with a parade and crafts faire on the streets of the ‘City of Action.’
The Annual Christmas Parade is in its 47th year, now winding from the Community Center down Santa Fe, around Second and back up Stanislaus streets. This year’s edition featured 27 entries in a variety of categories for young and old.
In addition to the nighttime festivities, there was a Christmas Crafts Faire held through the afternoon on Third Street, next to the Plaza del Rio Park. During the day and into the evening, various groups entertained on the park stage.
The two events have been combined lately, originally occurring at different times, sometimes on different days. Although it isn’t as long running as the parade in terms of years, the faire seems to complement the parade, adding to the success of each.
An addition to the festivities this year was the appearance in the afternoon of Santa and his helpers from the Riverbank Historical Society. They were displaying the society’s 1919 Model T truck that was first purchased by the town’s volunteer fire department and built into a fire engine. Society members were offering photos with Santa to the public for a donation to their building fund. The group, along with the city, is raising funds to build an annex to the museum, next to the historical Carnegie Library on Santa Fe Street.
Both groups and individuals took advantage of the opportunity to take photos during the afternoon. Later that evening, the engine, named River Red by a third grade class at Crossroads Elementary a few years ago, appeared in the parade, with members of the city council aboard.
Mounted units, marching bands, car and motorcycle clubs and walking groups marched from the Community Center to downtown and back again after dark. Since the parade has been moved to the evening, lights have been suggested to participants, and make for a colorful event.
The parade was followed by Santa’s lighting of the Community Christmas Tree in the Plaza.
Recently former mayor Allen Trawick told of his trip to the mountains, with councilman Charles Neal, to pick out Riverbank’s first community tree, in 1963. At the time, it was mounted in a manhole in the center of the Third and Santa Fe streets intersection. Later, a tree planted by the Chamber of Commerce near the Community Center was used, but when redevelopment was completed downtown and the Plaza del Rio Park finished, a permanent, living tree was planted and gets bigger and fuller every year.
Saturday night’s festival ended with the tree lighting, then the presentation of parade awards.
Of those who marched or rode in the 47th Annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, many had something extra to be thankful for. There were 27 entrants and of those, 16 won first place in their category, with three special awards conferred.
Besides winning first in Plain Western Senior Equestrian, Corky Fellingham, riding Kat, also won the A.J. Meyers Equestrian Award. The Highway 99 PT Cruisers car club won the Scott Pettit Memorial Award, along with a First Place in Auto Clubs.
The Best Overall winner was New Life Community Church, which also won the First Place in the Church Float bracket.
Other first place winners included the Riverbank High School Color Guard. The Riverbank River Rats Motorcycle Club won their division. The Golden River Council Girl Scouts groups won first in the Walking Group/Float Non-Profit Division, with Vena’s Secrets winning for Business Floats.
The Riverbank Unified School District won in the Floats/School division, with a lighted school bus carrying District Superintendent Daryl Camp and School Board members aboard.
Riverbank Cub Scout Pack 10, BSA, won for Walking Group and Sheriff Adam Christianson, Police Chief Erin Kiley and two other officers, riding as the Stanislaus Sheriff Posse, won for Mounted Senior Police Group.
Candy Graham won First Place in the Fancy Dressed Western Mounted Lady - Senior category.