Turkey day is tomorrow, the day after is “Black Friday,” and the day after that is the official kick off for the holiday season in the City of Action, starting with Riverbank’s official Christmas Festival. It’s a day filled with crafts, a parade, a tree lighting and, of course, a visit from Santa.
Since this is a short work week because of Thanksgiving, city crews were busy all last week making preparations for the festivities coming up on Saturday, Nov. 28. Colorful seasonal banners were installed on many light posts up and down Santa Fe Street, especially at the main intersection with Third, adjacent to Plaza del Rio Park, where the community Christmas tree is located.
Parks & Facility Supervisor Tim Dowdy and his crew were engaged in putting up the lights and ornaments on the tree toward the end of the week. Many of the decorations have been donated by the estate of Scott Pettit. He was the owner of Karate for Kids on the corner of Santa Fe and Fourth streets. Pettit was a fixture in community activities over the years until his untimely death in 2013.
Along with the holiday parade, city residents and visitors to the community can also take advantage of the special Craft Faire, which begins Saturday at noon and continues until 8 p.m. near City Hall and the Plaza.
As of this past week, city staff reports 26 vendors of all kinds signed up, including two selling food items. Crafters will be selling handmade blankets, quilts, clothes, dolls, jewelry, ornaments and Nativity sets, soap, jewelry boxes, tables and many more items.
They’ve scheduled both live and recorded music throughout the day, performing on the stage of the Plaza. The Riverbank Historical Society has announced that the museum will be open for its regular hours on Saturday, Nov. 28, during the Craft Faire. The museum is on Santa Fe, just around the corner from City Hall North.
Saturday’s parade begins at 5:30 p.m., coming down Santa Fe from the Community Center past the Plaza, turning on Second Street and returning on Stanislaus.
Parade entries are said to include the Highway 99 PT Cruiser Club, both Girl Scouts and Boy Scout troops, school bands from Riverbank High and Cardozo and Ustach Middle Schools. The Navy Junior ROTC color guard unit from RHS will lead the way at the front of the parade.
The Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled to follow the parade, about 20 minutes after the final entry goes past the park. Typically, the last entry in the parade is a fire engine that carries a special passenger, as Santa Claus makes his arrival in the downtown area.
Santa will return to throw his pixie dust on the city Christmas Tree to light it. After that, he’s planning on sticking around to meet with kids and hand out candy canes. Weather forecasters are predicting Saturday’s high temperatures in the mid-50s with just a 10 percent chance of rain for the day.