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The magic of

 Manteca kids

 on parade


Sorry, Mickey, you lose.

It’s tough to beat the magic of an army of kids — with a strong smattering of adults, dogs and horses mixed in — parading down Yosemite Avenue draped in thousands of colored Christmas lights while 10,000 people line the parade route bundled against the 50-degree Manteca evening air.

By comparison the electric light parade down Main Street at Disneyland is — there’s no delicate way to put this —Mickey Mouse.

Sure, Disney Inc. can put on a professional and seemingly perfect show. But who’d trade that for seeing a dozen young boys of a Cub Scout Pack scurrying to prevent a snowman they’re pulling from tumbling on to the pavement? You can almost imagine the fun they had creating what look like the Mother-of-all-Cotton-Balls.

Manteca’s  twilight Christmas parade in the past has included rescued greyhounds — the four-legged kind and not the diesel belching version — decked out as Santa and Mrs. Claus and other holiday characters.

And it is tough to beat the sound of more than a dozen bands, who have almost every member wearing Santa hats as they marched to the tune of Christmas songs.

Even the elementary bands that aren’t exactly dialed in yet sounded great. Marching music is always better when it is played by your kid, the neighbor boy down the street or the young girl who plays soccer on Saturdays on a team coached by one of your co-workers.

And how can a Disney character on parade beat literally hundreds upon of hundreds of kids —  cheerleaders, gymnasts, youth football players, Cub Scouts, church group members, preschoolers and others — spreading Christmas cheer with their smiles as they ventured down Yosemite from Library Park to Manteca High?

Am expected crowd of 10,000 at this year’s 44th parade edition taking place Saturday, Dec.  3, starting at 5 p.m., will be able to warm their hearts watching the 100 plus entries created by family friends, neighbors and community members . The smiles of those marching were magnified a 100 times by the kids scrambling from their curb seats to retrieve tossed candy or pointing and laughing at a float going by.

Mickey Mouse, when he makes his appearance during parades, may trigger excitement down at Disneyland. But he can never match the wide-eyed wonder and glow on a 5-year-old’s cheeks as she jumps up and down pointing to the lead fire engine at the parade’s rear as she practically shouts, “Mommy! Mommy! Look it’s Santa Claus!”

The most magical place on earth on the evening of Dec. 3 won’t be in Anaheim. It will be along Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.