A window of sunshine opened on Sunday, Dec. 8 that was just wide enough for the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival to squeak through and escape the rain that fell all weekend.
“We have a special channel to Santa Claus,” parade chair Ann Kerr Bache explained afterward.
The 62nd cavalcade marched six floats, nine bands, and three equestrian units down Girard Avenue and Prospect Street.
A fleet of classic cars also shuttled various dignitaries, including grand marshal Jack McGrory and the honorary marshals: longtime La Jolla business leader “Papa” Doug Manchester (philanthropy); Preuss School founders Peter and Peggy Preuss (civic); La Jolla Sports Club co-owner Brett Murphy (sports); brigadier general Ryan Heritage (military); and La Jolla Country Day School headmaster Gary Krahn (education). Also riding in the parade was California Assembly member and 2020 mayoral candidate Todd Gloria.
This year’s theme was “Christmas on the Moon,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moon walk, and former International Space Station commander Shane Kimbrough was driven through the streets in a Ferrari as the parade’s first “space” marshal.
The threat of a wet Christmas did thin the turnout, which police estimated at significantly less than half its usual 20,000. And several floats — including La Jolla Kiwanis’ — had to cancel because assembling them beforehand in the rain was not possible. In addition, FAA rules precluded the 41st flyover from Bill Allen and his Antique Aircraft Airways museum, as the skies over Montgomery Field did not clear in time.
However, no spirits were dampened, according Kerr Bache, who stated “many people said it was the most fun and best ever.”
The Christmas Parade is privately funded by community business and residents in amounts from $25 to (this year) a $10,000 grant from the La Jolla Rotary Club. During a reception Kerr Bache threw for marshals and donors the night before the parade at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, she told guests that McGrory — San Diego’s City Manager from 1991 to 1997 — was this year’s hands-down hero.
The parade previously counted on the generosity of residents Audrey Geisel and John Barbey, Kerr Bache explained, but both passed away since the last parade, and their tremendous losses also translated to financial losses for the event.
“So Jack stepped up to the plate and created a Founders Circle for people who agreed to donate $5,000 a year to keep the parade going,” Kerr Bache said. “Jack is a quiet donor to so many activities, you have no idea.”
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.
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