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Santa Claus Is Coming: Annual Parade, Craft Fair
Mesa Verde float
Colorful with their holiday sweaters and a wide variety of Christmas lights to brighten up their entry, students and staff from Mesa Verde Elementary School in Riverbank happily took part in the 2021 downtown Christmas parade. News File Photo By Ric McGinnis

Christmas is right around the corner and so is the 53rd Annual Christmas Parade and festivities presented by the City of Riverbank’s Parks and Recreation Department. The holiday kickoff is set for Saturday, Dec. 10 and will run from noon to 8 p.m. in downtown Riverbank.

“The planning for the parade is going great,” said Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick. “We have a committee that we established that is helping Tony, Ron and I. Cathy, our temp administrative clerk has been working real hard to help make this a great parade.”

The festivities kick off at noon with 32 craft vendors and eight food vendors reported to be posted up on Third Street between Topeka and Santa Fe streets. Fitzpatrick noted that they have a waiting list for vendors because all of the available spaces have been filled.

There will be entertainment on stage at the Plaza del Rio Park and at 4 p.m. Horatio Menroe will keep the Christmas spirit flowing with some holiday tunes. They have a new sound system downtown that will be used to make announcements during the event.

The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Sixth Street then move along Santa Fe Street and continue to Second Street. There will be judges at the intersection of Santa Fe Street and Third Street to evaluate the parade participants. They currently have 35 entries, which is up from last year. They are still taking parade entries and for those that are interested, they can call the Parks and Recreation Department at 209-863-7150.

After the parade they will present awards and have the tree lighting ceremony. Following the tree lighting, Santa is slated to be on hand to pose for pictures with youngsters.

Fitzpatrick expressed that one of the challenges to organize this type of event is that they are a small department but with the committee assisting it has made it less challenging.

“The tree at the Plaza is getting taller each year and this is a challenge for the parks crew to decorate,” stated Fitzpatrick. “They always do a great job and we all enjoy it during the holidays as it lights up the downtown.”

New Life Float
This parade entry from 2021 featured members of the New Life Community Church, heralding the ‘reason for the season’ as part of their float theme. This year’s holiday parade in Riverbank will be Saturday, Dec. 10. - photo by Ric McGinnis