'Tis the season for a parade: La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival set for Dec. 7

57th La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival set for Dec. 7

When: Sunday, Dec. 7


Parade begins: 1:30 p.m. 

Holiday Festival begins: 2:30 p.m. 
La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Photos with Santa: 3-5 p.m. La Jolla Rec Center


Tree lighting: 5 p.m., Rec Center


Website: ljparade.com

La Jolla’s time-honored holiday tradition, the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival, will march and trot down Girard Avenue again, kicking off a half hour earlier, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 at Girard Avenue and Kline Street.

In addition to regular contingents of clowns, beauty queens, fire engines, floats, horses, canines, camels, civic groups and classic cars, for the first time in decades La Jolla High School will have a marching band in the parade. The new P.E. Marching Band program at La Jolla High will join high school bands from across the county, including those returning from La Jolla Country Day School and University City High School.

“I had a very nice conversation with Kevin Beiser, who is on our school board and who used to be in band in school, and he said he’d like to have every public school band in every parade, because it gives the kids an opportunity to perform,” said longtime La Jolla Christmas Parade organizer Ann Kerr Bache.

This year’s Holiday Festival at La Jolla Rec Center (615 Prospect St.) kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 7 with a series of music and entertainment, plus fun activities for children, including bounce houses, an obstacle course and educational displays from the Venter Institute and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The pine tree in front of La Jolla Rec Center, planted in 1984 by La Jolla Sunrise Rotary under the direction of charter club President George Dewhurst (GDC Construction), will sport new holiday décor, thanks to a $2,000 grant from the La Jolla Rec Center Advisory Board and assistance from La Jolla Sunrise Rotary and GDC Construction. Laura McDonald of Eloquence Design envisioned classic La Jolla seahorse ornaments to give the tree a beach theme. Float coordinator and Sunrise Rotary member Dave Irwin is making the hand-carved, hand-painted ornaments.

“The lighting of the Christmas Tree is going to be pretty special this year, because it’s going to kick off the 100th anniversary of the Rec Center. Stella Maris Academy will sing and the most important person in the parade is Santa Claus,” who will wave and belly laugh down Girard Avenue in a Packard Twin Six, referred to as “The Old Black Goose,” Kerr Bache enthused.

Parade participants should be advised however, that to avoid confounding young La Jollans, organizers maintain a strict, “one St. Nick” policy.

“Last year, one entry didn’t believe me and had Santa Claus on their float,” Kerr Bach said. “I went right up to them at the corner of Girard and Kline and said ‘Get off that!’ The next afternoon my son came home from school and said, ‘Mom, people were saying, who was that lady screaming at Santa?’ ” Kerr Bach recalled, with a laugh.

In homage to the late Margaret “Peggy” Howell and Sue Geller, who co-founded Friends of County Animal Shelters (F.O.C.A.S.), which finds adoptive homes for homeless and abandoned animals, F.O.C.A.S. will return to the parade, which begins with an antique aircraft flyover, courtesy of Bill Allen.

Grand Marshals: This year’s grand marshal is Las Patronas, represented by its board president Annette Bradbury and Jewel Ball chair Cari Massaad. They will ride in one of several classic cars on loan from La Jolla Concours d’Elegance organizers. Other marshals recognized for their community contributions include: Children’s Pool Walk beautification project organizer Phyllis Minick (Civic Marshal); CONNECT CEO Greg McKee (Innovation Marshal); La Jolla Recreation Council board president Doug Fitzgerald (Sports Marshal); retired Navy Captain Steve Kappes of the Military Outreach Team and Wounded Warriors Tennis Camp (Military Marshal).

Awards will be given to groups assembling original parade floats, with categories such as “Best Overall,” “Most Colorful” “Most Holiday Spirit.”

Caveat: Kerr Bache noted that all vehicles should be off Girard Avenue no later than 
9 a.m. Police will begin towing promptly at 9:30 a.m. to clear the route, she said. Both the parade and festival are organized by the all-volunteer La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival, of which Kerr Bache is foundation president and lead event organizer.

“We are grateful to Jack McGrory and Bill Kellogg, honorary parade chairs, for their support and assistance making the parade possible,” Kerr Bache said, also noting that the La Jolla Town Council’s immediate past president, Cindy Greatrex, will serve as festival chair, while Mike Carlin serves as parade director, assuring a well-run and safe parade.

Kerr Bache’s involvement with the event began in 1998, when it was under the auspices of the La Jolla Town Council. She has since formed a separate, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Portions of the proceeds benefit band programs in La Jolla, and provide a small stipend to all participating school bands to help pay for bus rentals.

Last year, the event raised a total of about $9,000 for local schools. Kerr Bache said she hopes to expand donations for bands and other arts programs at La Jolla schools, adding to the efforts of La Jolla Art & Wine Festival founder Sherry Ahern.

“Sherry Ahern does a fabulous job with the Art & Wine Festival. We’d like to help with some more specific, targeted educational programs throughout the year,” Kerr Bache said. “We just need to raise money to form an endowment. If anybody wants to make a donation to their favorite local band they can do that through the foundation and it will go directly to that band and is fully tax deductible.”

The parade and festival are funded solely by community donations, Kerr Bache noted, adding that the early support of Gold Sponsor John Barbey made it possible to plan this year’s festivities. Other major sponsors include Audrey Geisel, the Dr. Seuss Fund, Darlene Marcos Shiley, the McGrory Family Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation and LMC Management.

The event costs about $80,000 each year to produce, including permit fees, crowd control, portable restrooms and other necessities. Sponsorship opportunities are listed on the parade’s website, ljparade.com

Volunteers are still needed the day of the parade to help with check-ins, parade flow and other duties. To volunteer or to make a donation, visit LJParade.com

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