La Jolla Christmas Parade hits it out of park again

The 61st La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival jingled The Village’s bells on Sunday, Dec. 3 as more than 80 entrants — including 11 floats, 12 marching bands, and six canine and seven equestrian units — rolled down Girard Avenue and Prospect Street.

A fleet of 1934-38 Packards shuttled the various marshals, including La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club president William J. Kellogg (grand marshal), new San Diego Chief of Police David Nisleit (civic), Kristi Pieper (community), John and Karin Donaldson (philanthropic), Dawn Barry (technology), Erika Torri (cultural), Lorin Stewart (military) and Mike Glancy (floatology). Also on hand was Assemblymember Todd Gloria.

La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival chair Ann Kerr Bache called it “one of our best efforts,” unscientifically estimating the crowd at 20,000.

“My volunteers said it was the largest crowd ever,” she said, “but they always say that.”

Spectators set up as early as 11 a.m. for a good viewing site, including native La Jollan Keith Jones, his wife Megan Jones, son Dylan, 2, and daughter Ella, 3.

Ella, who turns 4 on Christmas Day, said her favorite thing about the parade was the candy lobbed by many of the parade participants into the crowd. Keith said he enjoyed the Golden Retriever Meetup Group. When reminded that he had just identified himself as a La Jolla Country Day lifer, Jones changed his answer.

“Go Torreys!” he shouted.

As usual, Kerr Bache said, there were 30 to 40 metaphorical fires to put out.

“We had to do some dynamic rerouting because of the horses,” she said, explaining that horses can’t follow a group featuring loud music — especially live music with drums — because they get spooked.

Also, the old-timey paddy wagon in which Chief Nisleit was supposed to ride arrived already overheating. But Nisleit took that and another humorous misfire in stride: Kerr Bache said that when he arrived, one of her 30 volunteers told him he wasn’t allowed to park his car in the US Bank lot.

“So he just parked somewhere else and walked back,” Kerr Bache said. “I think we could have made an exception!”

The parade was preceded by its accompanying Holiday Festival, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a blocked-off Wall Street in front of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. For the past five years, this festival — featuring singing and dancing on a stage run by by DJ Ron Jones — was staged at the Rec Center following the parade. But Kerr Bache decided to revert to the older format.

“The main reason was so that the parade could finish by 4 p.m. and everyone could go eat in La Jolla,” she said. “A lot of people came to La Jolla for the parade. Although there’s no way to tell, I hope they spent some money.”

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