Pleasanton holiday parade, tree lighting, draw thousands
Heavy rains let up just long enough for Hometown Holiday Celebration to take place
Thousands turned out to watch Pleasanton's popular Hometown Holiday Parade Saturday night with heavy rains ending in mid-afternoon, then starting up again shortly after the parade and tree-lighting festivities ended at 8 p.m.
Estimates indicated that more than 10,000 watched the parade from sidewalks along Main Street as nearly 3,000 others marched, walked or rode in the parade.
Michelle Stearns of the city's Parks and Community Services Department and this year's parade coordinator spent a hectic Saturday afternoon responding to phone calls as weather experts provided half-hour updates on the fast-moving storm. As late as 3 p.m., heavy rains were falling, especially north of the city, but Stearns held to predictions that the storm would end in time for the parade to proceed.
Her words on the parade's emergency hotline never deviated from "It's still a go."
That was good news for already uniformed marching bands from both Foothill and Amador Valley high schools as well as those who had decorated floats and cars, and Scouts getting ready to assemble for the 5 p.m. parade kick-off.
The Foothill band led the parade, with the Amador Valley High marching band in the middle of the near-two-hour long proceeding, playing festive Christmas and other holiday music past three reviewing stands where announcers described the floats, organizations and walking groups passing by.
Scores of holiday inspired entries paraded down Main Street including the Pleasanton Weekly's Holiday Fund car, the Centerpointe Presbyterian Church men's club's Balloon Platoon, a horse-drawn wagon carrying the Pleasanton City Council, hundreds of Cub Scouts and Brownies, local car clubs and dog clubs, and many more.
Stearns said there were 82 separate entries in the parade for a total of 2,875 individuals in all, including 1,633 walkers. Also in the parade were 42 cars, 13 floats, four bands and five animal entries (dog groups and horses).
Main Street was closed to vehicular traffic for the parade but many merchants and all of the restaurants downtown were open to take advantage of the crowds out front.
The Foothill band was followed by the VFW and American Legion Color Guard, then lots of Scout groups, a float sponsored by Meadowlark Dairy, the Balloon Platoon, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and the City Council and, of course, Santa Claus.
Stearns said parade participants also included the Pleasanton Rugby Club, Pleasanton Seahawks, Elvis, the Tri Valley Roller Girls, Fiona the cow from the Adobe, and Harvest Park Middle School's Cheer Squad and jazz band.
One of the highlights of the parade was a real One Horse Open Sleigh restored by Brad Haupt, who lives with his family on a 5-acre parcel on Johnston Road about 6 miles north of the Pleasanton city limits, but still in the Pleasanton post office delivery zone. Haupt said the sleigh was used by his ancestors from 1890-1910, but then packed away when they started using automobiles. Recently, he refinished it, restoring it with authentic extra thin-wood and fabric where new material was needed.
The tree lighting took place as scheduled after the parade with carolers singing holiday songs before Hosterman, with Santa at her side, pulled the switch lighting the four-story tall tree. It was the last time she'll be on stage as mayor. Her term expires this year and newly elected Mayor Jerry Thorne took the oath of office Tuesday night in the City Council chambers.