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‘Santa will still come to The Village’: La Jolla Christmas Parade organizers seek modified holiday festivities

Santa Claus rides down La Jolla's Prospect Street in the Old Black Goose in 2014.
(File)

Details are still being finalized as to how the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival may happen this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the tentative plan is to essentially reverse the usual parade pattern: Instead of spectators lining the streets and watching as floats go by, the floats will be stationary and the spectators will drive by.

The event, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, and themed “Christmas at the Cove,” also will feature Santa Claus being transported in the Old Black Goose — a 1915 Packard convertible — along with performances and a flyover that can be seen across The Village, organizers say.

There also will be “virtual marshals” honoring locals, contests and activities for children, socially distant visits with Santa and videos of performances that would otherwise be held during the Holiday Festival.

Parts of the festivities will be in person, and if funding allows, the entire thing will be livestreamed.

“We are not allowed to have a regular parade or events with spectators, but we want the children to have as much of the Christmas experience as they would normally have and preserve as much of the parade as possible,” said event chairwoman Ann Kerr Bache, who has been working with the city of San Diego since the summer on how to execute the parade.

She said the city has been reviewing her plans as they evolve and as COVID-19-related restrictions have changed in recent months. The permit Kerr Bache got last year was invalidated, and permitting is now done online. Nothing can be confirmed until the permit is secure.

“I’m confident we will come up with something that follows county COVID guidelines, but the details are still being worked out,” she said. “Santa will still come to The Village, but people cannot sit along Girard Avenue and cheer him on. Spectators will still be able to see and vote on their favorite floats, but they will not drive by. Kids will still be able to write their letters to Santa, and we will still have a Christmas tree, but we don’t know where the [mailbox and] the tree will be.”

Beret-sporting San Diego French-American School students join in the La Jolla Christmas Parade in 2014.
(File)

Antique Aircraft owner Bill Allen will provide the flyover and the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club will provide Santa’s new sleigh. One idea is to have Santa and classic cars in an open-air parking lot for viewing and have a queue system for people to meet Santa, but not crowd in line beyond what the county allows.

The parade website, ljparade.com, will be updated to reflect changes as they are approved. ◆