Where there's a will, there's a parade
Anyone planning an outdoor event during these stormy winter weather months in Pleasanton should give Michelle Stearns a call to "will away" the rain. As the coordinator of last Saturday's Hometown Holiday Parade on Main Street, that's what she did during the downpours of Friday and even on the morning of the parade. Sitting by the parade hotline, which she'd have to use to call off the parade, Stearns just kept insisting that it's not going to rain, not during the parade, and she wouldn't let it.
She's not sure who heard her pleadings made as storms continued to pelt the city, but they worked. At 1 p.m., about the time she had to make a "go-or-no go" decision, the rain stopped and the parade kicked off at 5 p.m. just as she had planned. A few hours later as she and other city workers were taking down the announcement booths, Museum on Main stage and opening Main Street after the parade, the rain started again, but that was OK. Her work was done.
Stearns wasn't alone in wanting the skies to clear. Across town, Allan Lam, his daughter Aly and all the girls in her Girl Scout Troop 32815 were hoping for the same break in the weather so they could ride in the colorful float that Lam had built for the Scouts. As last week's storms approached, he even took the 15 girls, all fourth-graders at Lydiksen Elementary School, out for a "spin" around the block before backing the float into his garage for safe-keeping.
The float, pictured above, was a highlight of the parade and included Tristan Meyer, Holden Meyer, Nicolas Rodriguez, Michaela Hoyman, Savina DeLeo, Aly Lam, Alyssa Camacho, Camille Rodriguez, Megan Lam, Kaia Hoyman, Alyssa Camacho, Emily Eshelman, Sydney Cohen, Ria Patel, Cristina Cardenas, Rachel Singh, Katrina Terpstra, Haley Kolon, Michaela Hoyman, Kaylee Bulat, Isabella Conte, Rachel Herrick and Liana and Savina DeLeo. The adults standing behind the girls are one of the moms, Rocio Rodriguez, and the Grinch is one of the dads, Malcom DeLeo.
Darci Camacho has been the troop leader of this same group of girls almost since they joined as Daisies, then Brownies and finally Girl Scouts. They decided on the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" theme in September when Allan Lam took on the job of building the float. Everyone participated in anticipation of having one of the best floats in this year's parade. With weather permitting, they succeeded.
Putting the city's annual Hometown Holiday Parade together starts early. Stearns met with this year's steering committee last Tuesday, which has set next year's parade date for Saturday, Dec. 7. She sent out "Save the Date" notices to those who were involved and participated so that it's on everyone's calendar. Actual planning will begin next August but Stearns wants to make sure the 75 volunteers who worked with 71 from various city departments on last Saturday's parade come back. She can't handle the parade without the volunteers, who actually run the show with city staff making sure their plans are followed.
While Stearns coordinates all of the activities, specialists handle the details. Rob Vogt, who manages the Firehouse Arts Center, writes the contracts for vendors who provide services, including the horse-drawn carriage that the carried the City Council in the parade. Ian Anderson, a recreation supervisor at the city's softball complex, kept the parade moving. Daniel Smith, the city's Operations Services director, assigned crews to close off and clean up Main Street, a job made particularly tough this year because these same crews worked on flood prevention measures all day Friday and much of Sunday.
For Stearns, despite the anxious moments, coordinating Saturday's parade gave her a break from her regular job as the city's Recreation Supervisor who oversees the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center, including swimming lessons, swim teams, water exercise programs and lifeguard classes. Her work at the aquatic center is especially challenging this year with three pools shut down for reconstruction. That means classes and programs have to be tightly scheduled for the 50-meter pool, the only one that's opened. She's likely to "will away" again any delays that might keep the rebuilding work from being completed on schedule next year.