Parade organizers focus on family


Changes aim to reduce hit on area merchants

Organizers of a slightly downsized La Jolla Christmas parade and festival promise it will be more family- and business-friendly this year.

“The direction is that we need to do everything we can to support the local economy,” said Darcy Ashley, president of La Jolla Town Council which is sponsoring its 51st annual Yuletide celebration themed “History on Parade” on Sunday, Dec. 7.

“To do that we needed to reduce the impacts as much as possible by not providing activities or doing things that will compete with the business community. We will have refreshments and events, but not enough so people won’t want to go out to dine at local restaurants.”

Every year crowds exceeding 20,000 pack the sidewalks of La Jolla Village to witness the event, which draws another 1,200 participants in marching bands, ROTC units, float builders, equestrians, car aficionados, legislators and more.

Not so crafty

One of the changes will be that the 2008 celebration will not include a YMCA-sponsored craft fair as in years past.

“Taking into consideration all the various factors that we are facing, our staff made a recommendation to our board that we not proceed with the event this year,” said Sam Wurtzbacher of La Jolla YMCA, which has hosted the craft fair for 25 years.

Despite the decision, he said he hopes the groups can collaborate on future events.

The economic downturn also caused other changes to be made to this year’s event.

“We kind of scaled back the scope of the parade because we needed to lower our overhead,” said Ashley. “The emphasis will be on keeping it simple, keeping it light.”

The event cost between $18,000 and $20,000 to stage last year, not including in-kind donations.

Later start

The year-end community fest will begin as usual with its showcase parade, only a half hour later than usual at 2 p.m. to avoid impacts with Sunday religious services. The route runs along Girard Avenue from Kline Street to Prospect Street, ending at the La Jolla Rec Center.

The parade will be immediately followed at about 3:30 p.m. by a holiday festival featuring refreshments, photos with Santa Claus, plenty of caroling and more at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

The ceremonial lighting of the rec center’s decorated Christmas tree at 5 p.m. will wrap up the event.

Thus far, two parade marshals are confirmed: Ellen Revelle as grand marshal and Carl Dustin of Mt. Soledad Memorial Association as military marshal.

Town Council parade chairs so far are John Donaldson, publicity; Trent Bonner, fundraising; George Dewhurst, parade; Poncho Dewhurst, festival; Russell Ali, vehicles; and Craig Koontz, Toastmasters announcers chair.

Family tradition

A photo of Walter A. Dewhurst circa 1940s at the beach with his surfboard graces this year’s Christmas parade poster, which is to be distributed throughout town promoting the event.

The Dewhurst family, fourth-generation remodeling and building contractors in La Jolla, have figured prominently in La Jolla’s Christmas celebration throughout its long history. Ernest Dewhurst, a carpenter who set up shop in La Jolla in 1929, deserves credit for resurrecting the Christmas parade after it had been discontinued for a number of years. He is also responsible for planting the pine tree at the Rec Center.

Chester “Pancho” Dewhurst, Ernest’s great-grandson, has the task of using a cherry picker to string the showpiece tree with lights and decorations.

A fundraising effort has been launched to support the Christmas parade. Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so by mailing the La Jolla Town Council Foundation at P.O. Box 1101, La Jolla, Ca., 92038.

The next meeting of the Town Council Christmas Parade Committee will be Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at GDC Construction, 1031 Silverado St.