A long-standing tradition

La Jolla Christmas Parade celebrates 51 years of history

In the midst of the annual holiday hustle and bustle, some traditions get lost. The La Jolla Christmas Parade, however, has had a happier fate. It’s been a holiday constant in the lives of La Jollans for decades.

This year, the festive happening celebrates 51 years of operation.

Themed “History of Parade,” the Dec. 7 event will feature marching bands, ROTC units, dancers, equestrians and other attractions that look back at the parade’s long history.

It all began in the 1950s when Walter Dewhurst, an active member in the La Jolla Town Council, thought creating a Christmas parade would have a positive effect on the community.

He was right.

The parade, though smaller in size back then, featured classics such as Santa Claus and his nine reindeer, Christmas carolers and marching bands.

According to Walter’s son, George Dewhurst, his favorite part of the parade while growing up was “getting together with everybody to celebrate Christmas.”

Following the parade, the community would come together to light a Christmas tree and place a bright star on top. Everyone gathered around, shared hot cider and cookies, and sang Christmas carols.

Unlike the current route, the parade started at the south end of Girard Avenue and ended on Cave Street at the La Jolla Cove.

Despite its initial success, the La Jolla Christmas Parade hit a low point in the early 1960s. Many of the yearly goers lost interest in the parade and, due to a lack of funding, the event had to be shut down.

But in 1983 George and others came together to create a Christmas committee under the La Jolla Town Council to re-establish the parade.

That year, the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club gave a gift - a Christmas tree - which George planted on the corner of Prospect Street and Draper Avenue. The tree not only symbolized the commencement of the holiday season, but it was also used as a method to bring the community together.

That Christmas tree still stands today.

Though a lack of funding posed a threat to this year’s event, the community will gather around the tree to watch the lights come on at the close of the parade.

And if history really does repeat itself, they’ll continue to unite for these festivities for years to come.

For more information on the La Jolla Christmas Parade, visit

Carmen Mason is a student at High Tech High and an intern at La Jolla Light.