Last Sunday Chrystie and I crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn to stake out seats for the San Jose Holiday Parade.
Thanks to weathermen predicting heavy rainfall, there was not a huge crowd on the beautiful sunny morning. There was no traffic whatsoever, and I found street parking within 2 blocks of the parade route. We found seats on the curb near some bleachers that were set up – a perfect spot to view the parade performers who would likely put on a show for those in the bleachers.
We were an hour early, so we got to watch the street vendors entice everyone with hot coffee and doughnuts as spectators filled up the curbs. Right on time, the cheers began and the parade started with various civil service agencies: police, firefighters, search and rescue.
They were followed soon after by the San Jose Animal Care Center who had volunteers walking adoptable pets dressed in holiday clothes. While I’m not a fan of dressing up animals, I admit they were cute.
Next, county board members drove by in old Thunderbirds.
Then there was what I can only guess was an ACLU float that celebrated diversity, but it felt a little forced and out of place.
The first balloons came along soon after, fortunately it wasn’t windy, so most groups had no problem navigating around the trees and stop lights. Most balloons were handled by the Paypal Holiday Helper volunteers.
The banners implied that Minnie Mouse was Grand Marshal of the parade, but I was under the impression that the Giants were the Grand Marshals.
Then came the first of many…many marching bands, the first of which was from San Jose State.
Next came a Nutcracker balloon sponsored by UPS.
The honorable mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, waved to the crowds. I felt bad because I had never heard of him, he must be keeping his nose cleaner than his predecessor Ron Gonzales.
The San Jose Ballet came by advertising their annual Nutcracker performance. There was no dancing or performing, but the Rat King ran around and gave high-fives.
Stomper, the A’s mascot was driven by, along with future pitching great Trevor Cahill, and pitcher Brett Anderson.
Next came the Santa Clara High School band, whose drummers are taught by Chrystie’s brother Scott.
The parade got backed up a bit, so we got to enjoy their dancing and drum beats for a while. I got a big kick out of the way they decorated their instruments.
Then came a Tech Museum float advertising their big IMAX movie Harry Potter 7.1, with a small Harry Potter, and dancers all wearing Harry Potter glasses, which was very cute.
The Marines came by, not cracking so much as a smile on this festive occasion.
In a much more playful mood were Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat.
The Coca-Cola bear flew on by and made me wonder why Pepsi has neither a mascot, nor balloons.
The San Jose Earthquakes mascot, Q (which I just learned was short for Quakeasaurus) drove by, but no players had come.
A bit further down came the World Champs. Ready to get some great close ups of the Giants I missed at the World Series Parade, I was really disappointed with the turnout. Only Andres Torres, Sergio Romo, Lou Seal, and the World Series Trophy came out for the parade. It seems as if Andres Torres has become the voice of the Giants by the media, likely due to the large Spanish-speaking population and the fact that he is bilingual. As he passed us he was thanking the crowd in Spanish for all the support.
I thought it was really cool that they brought the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad engine from Vasona Park.
I’m becoming a fan of the Falun Dafa group that has been in most, if not every, parade I can think of in recent memory. Although they seem so out of place in parades like the Italian Heritage Day Parade, it’s cool that they keep showing up at every parade I go to.
The 49ers were able to send some cheerleaders and their mascots – I imagine they would have sent players had it not been a game day. Having been to only one 49ers game in as long as I can remember, I never knew the names of the mascots were Sourdough Sam and Baguette – great names.
Then, two particularly brilliant members of the media decided to set up shop and film right in the middle of the parade.
Apparently, they thought it’d be great to do a news segment while the parade went around them. So the marching bands had to swerve around them like two brainless boulders in a rushing river. Kudos to you two reporters from the International Chinese Network, your complete obliviousness and stupidity was astounding.
An impressive Elvis impersonator strolled by kissing the hands of the well-aged women in the crowd.
The Sharks finally came by with SJ Sharkie and a Zamboni. I contemplated how I could get liquored up and on that zambonie so I could cross “Drive a Zamboni on a public street while intoxicated” off my bucket list, but at best every scenario ended up with me tackled by security.
California’s Great America brought out the Peanuts gang – Charlie Brown was abnormally chipper.
The Bring Your Own Bag program came by on a float with a nice little remix of a holiday favorite “All I Want For Christmas” imploring everyone to take their plastic bags back to the store to be recycled. The cheerleaders had plastic bag pom-poms and one dancer had a plastic bag tutu.
And there was the holiday…pedobear?
Then came a group I had never heard of before, the 501st Legion – a group celebrating geek pride, Star Wars and costumes.
There were perhaps 50 people dressed up as various Star Wars characters – mostly storm troopers, but also some Red Squadron pilots, TIE pilots, Death Star peons, an awesome Admiral Ackbar, one of the Emperor’s Royal Guard, Leia and Mace Windu.
Spiderman, having put on some holiday weight, ran around doing somersaults and posing with children.
One of the Harlem Globetrotters came out and put on a nice demonstration for everyone.
The Power Rangers must still be popular with kids, although in my day they looked a bit different.
Finally, Santa came by on his giant sleigh to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and bring a close to the parade.
Overall, the parade was great and well worth waking up early. If I had to find something to complain about I’d say that San Jose being the heart of the tech world should be able to do better. The city is clearly strapped for cash as the “celebrities” in the parade were Celeste Kellogg, the EriAm Sisters, and Matthew “Mdot” Finley, all of which I had to google when I got home to figure out who they are. Some of the floats, Elmo most notably, had definitely seen better days with noticeable scrapes and scars all over. Also, only getting Torres and Romo to come out from the Giants was a huge letdown considering their World Series run, even the A’s sent better players. The San Jose Earthquakes couldn’t even be bothered to send one player in their offseason to rouse some attention for the home team whose attendance is struggling. The Sharks were traveling, so I can understand them not sending a big-time player, but send some backups or minor leaguers, get some bodies out there for the home team. The San Jose Giants snuck their mascot on the San Francisco Giants float, and didn’t have any players that I saw. Its the only parade in San Jose that I know of, so I would expect the local teams and celebrities to have more pride in their hometown.
There is a fear that this may be the last holiday parade, which just has me shaking my head in disappointment. It’s quite sad to think that the 10th largest city in the US wouldn’t be able to put on a holiday parade due to money issues.
My thanks to all those who sponsored the parade, most notably: California Waste Solutions, PayPal, Wells Fargo, and NBC Bay Area.
And dirty looks to big South Bay based companies that didn’t sponsor the hometown parade: Cisco, Agilent, AMD, Apple, HP, Intel, Nvidia, Rambus, SanDisk, Seagate, Sun Microsystems, Netflix, Electonic Arts, eBay, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Orchard Supply Hardware, Adobe, McAfee.
I’d share a link for personal donations, but there doesn’t seem to be one. So I’ll be donating at Christmas in the Park.
Here’s to hoping that San Jose can keep the tradition going for many years to come.
If you haven’t had enough of my photos from the parade, you can see all of them here.