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Annual Christmas Parade suffers lack of community support

Parade co-chair Lynda Hunt said that fund-raising for the parade is going slower than anticipated and that the parade is in need of many more volunteers in order to ensure things go smoothly when the 2006 La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival is held Sunday, Dec. 3, on Girard Avenue.

“We’re not getting the sponsorships we had hoped for,” Hunt said. “We’ve been turned down by downtown merchants, prominent people in the community have not responded, people who previously had participated are now saying they don’t have the money.”

The Christmas Parade is put on by the La Jolla Town Council. Hunt said it is typically a self-supporting event, but that the relatively low level of support has cut into the event’s marketing budget and that some council funds might have to be used to pay for essentials such as barricades, sound systems, tables and chairs.

Hunt and parade chair Michele Addington came on a bit late in the game, in September, but Hunt said she’s been assured by past parade leaders that the community will come together in time to ensure this year’s event goes off without a hitch.

“It’s a point of concern because we don’t want to run deeply into the red, but I’ve heard from people from years past that it all always turns out OK,” Hunt said.

This year’s parade figures to be as large as ever, with more than 75 entries already in from marching bands, ROTC units, drill teams, dancers, scout troops, float builders, equestrians and car aficionados. Local politicians including Rep. Susan Davis, Mayor Jerry Sanders, City Council President Scott Peters, City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer and City Attorney Michael Aguirre will appear as well.

The Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival was formerly simply known as a Christmas Parade prior to last year. A group of local residents asked that the name be changed to Holiday Parade so that the event would be more welcoming to people of all religions, not just Christians. The Town Council voted to keep the Christmas Parade name but added Holiday Festival in order to appease objectors. Hunt said this year’s parade theme of “Legends of the Season” is a way to include everyone in the community.

“Whatever special spark the holidays have for you, we’re trying to include,” Hunt said, “whether it’s the family legends or the traditions people have had.”

As part of the theme, the Town Council will also accept nominations for Legends of La Jolla. For $50, residents can nominate members of the community who they feel have made significant contributions to the community.

“We’re looking for people from the community who are the unsung heroes,” Hunt said.

The Legends of La Jolla will be honored at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony outside the La Jolla Recreation Center, which, for the first time in years, will not be held immediately following the parade. Hunt said the ceremony’s traditional start time of 4 p.m. took away from the drama of the tree lighting.

“You can’t really have the same impact during the daylight hours,” she said.

Instead, the tree lighting will take place Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m., immediately following the Town Council’s monthly meeting.

The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Esther Vitti.

“She is a beloved member of the community,” Hunt said. “Some people feel grand marshals should be of national prominence, but this is a person close to our hearts. She’s the lady who takes care of La Jolla.”

The day’s festivities begin at 9 a.m. with the La Jolla YMCA Arts and Crafts Festival on Silverado Street between Girard Avenue and Ivanhoe Avenue. The parade begins at 1:30 p.m. heading down Girard Avenue from Kline Street toward the ocean, then turns south onto Prospect Street and continues to Silverado Street. A post-parade reception will begin at 3:30 p.m. at La Jolla Recreation Center, 715 Prospect St.

Hunt said the event relies heavily on volunteers and that only about 20 have stepped forward so far. About 100 people are needed to perform tasks ranging from manning street barricades to assisting at the entertainment stage that will be at the corner of Girard Avenue and Kline Street.

“We want the parade to be a success and reflect the community, and we need the community to be involved,” Hunt said.

For more information, including how to volunteer or sponsor the 2006 La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival, visit www.ljparade.com.