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Weather Doesn't Deter Holiday Parade
The weather was foggy and chilly for the city's 40th annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, but a large crowd of spectators endured the bone-chilling cold to see the entries wind through the downtown, detouring along Fifth and Fourth streets this year to avoid the road construction on western Santa Fe street.

The Best of Show silver plate went to the River Rats Motorcycle Club, a local group of six or seven young men formed only six months ago - they all graduated from Riverbank High School - which rides noisy "hogs" for recreation but also does a lot of community service such as picking up trash and painting over graffiti.

They made a financial donation of several hundred dollars to pay the Riverbank High and Cardozo Middle school bands to bring their music, color and swinging march to this year's parade.

Parade winners by category included the following:

Police group senior - Sheriff's Mounted Posse led by Sheriff Adam Christianson in person. Formed in 1971, the posse began training for use in law enforcement in 1975 and now has 16 mounted deputies who work about 50 mounted details per year. Shoppers will be seeing them in the Crossroads Shopping Center this holiday season. Riders on Saturday included deputies Tom Reed and Lee Butler and Sergeants Hector Longoria and Erin Kiely.

Novelty Open - first, Black Belt Academy Karate for Kids, a program teaching life skills such as integrity, self-control, respect for others and personal safety; second, Little Caesars Pizza with a float and a segway or personal transporter; third, Ballet Folklorico Viva Mexico, a float carrying the local Mexican dance team in colorful dress.

Novelty comedy - first, Aahmes Clowns of the Livermore Temple of the Shriners who provide low-cost medical treatment for children with serious injuries; second, the Modesto Shrine Club Mini Lizzies who advertise the Shriners' services by buying their own miniature car and participating in parades.

School floats - Riverbank High Drama Club, portraying a Santa's workshop making toys to take to the children of Scotland where the club plans to perform a play next summer; second, Riverbank Language Academy where children learn in both English and Spanish (located on the Rio Altura School campus.)

Church floats - Dry Creek Church presenting a nativity scene titled "One Night in Bethlehem"; second, Community Praise Tabernacle, offering 50s theme songs and a spirited dance at the judges' stand off the song track called "Hallelujah Hop."

Equestrian winners in several categories included:

Candy Graham of Madera who is the California State Horseman's Association Overall High Point State Champion and has participated in parades since 1961.

Steve Smith, son of Peter and Shirley Sorensen riding his ranch mare Lucy and leading Eloise who is a zebra and donkey mix called a zonkey. Riding with Smith were two great grandsons of the Sorensens, DJ Holtzclaw riding a registered quarter pony called Moonshine, Devon Holtzclaw riding Miss Kitty, a paint quarter pony and a friend, J.E. Rodin of Rodin Farms, riding Sunny.

Mike Bishop from the Double M Ranch of Farmington with his horse called Bobby and dog named Boy.

Destiny's Crutch Adaptive Riding Program, a program started by Brad Miler, Cat Gaberel and Dessy White to help individuals with mental, physical and social developmental problems.

Amigos del Sol led by Pedro Barajas that showed off horses trained to dance to music and the handsome charro riding dress of Mexico.

The parade judges were Pastor Scott Ramsey of Shelter Cove Community Church, Dave Luis of Dry Creek Community Church, retired City of Riverbank employee Sandy Blagg and equestrian judge Alice Lawellin of Manteca. Scott Pettit of Karate for Kids did the announcing.

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus riding a fire truck brought up the tail end of the parade and listened to children's wishes at the Community Center later. They are due to appear again at the Tree Lighting slated for Thursday, Dec. 11 starting 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center.

Also participating in the parade were Miss Riverbank Kacie Alpers, Riverbank Mayor Chris Crifasi and family, Vice Mayor Sandra Benitez, Council members David I. White, Dave White and Jesse James White and Stanislaus County Supervisor and former Riverbank mayor Bill O'Brien.

Pettit expressed his thanks both to the parade entries and spectators for turning out on a cold day. He also thanked the Valley BMW Club of Modesto for providing new BMWs and drivers to carry city council members along the route.