Proclamation of the Mayor of the City of Los Altos
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The Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade was the creation of three downtown Los Altos merchants: Hope Higbee, Marion Jackston and Jack Huston, all of whom were inspired by the idea of a light parade. In 1977, these merchants convinced the Los Altos Village Association Sales Promotion Committee to stage a Parade on Thanksgiving evening with the intention of promoting good will and holiday spirit. With a few lit costumed characters taken from fairy tales and Walter Singer, a merchant and businessman festooned as the town Santa Claus, the Parade started at Third and Main Streets, traveled down Main, turned up State Street, and disappeared into the crowd.
The following year, several other members of the community, namely Bob Grimm, Ed Hilton, and Ted Johnston, added their talents, and the process of acquiring costumes and building floats began. Over the years, hundreds of hours have been spent tailoring lights to costumes and adding lights and sound systems to floats. Soon, individual merchants became involved by sponsoring these floats. Local high school marching bands began to participate.
Finding a place to store all of the Parade paraphernalia was a major problem. In the beginning, floats were stored in several different places, including an old barn on Springer Road and a City storage hut.
When the new storage facility was constructed at the Municipal Service Center on Fremont Avenue,
|the Board of Directors was able to
finance the acquisition of part of this facility thanks to a generous
donor. Since then, the floats have been housed in one area. In 2000, the
addition of a trailer made the storage and transportation of Parade
Today, there are more than 17,000 people that watch the approximate 60 entrants in the Parade that has turned into one of the most popular Los Altos events of the year. The theme remains “A Child’s Holiday Fantasy”, and the Board is vigilant in ensuring that this event remains a Parade for children as opposed to a Parade of children. There are approximately twenty-five illuminated floats, twinkling walking storybook characters, the mayors of both Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, local high school marching bands, and of course Santa with his sleigh and reindeer.
There are presently 35 volunteers who help put the Parade together on the Sunday after Thanksgiving each year. They transport the floats to the Parade staging area, repair the lights, install batteries or generators, dress and make up the costumed characters, orchestrate and synchronize the Parade entrants, and even push or drive the floats if they are not already in costume themselves.
By early Sunday afternoon, it is evident that something is about to happen as seen by the abundance of chairs and blankets that have been laid out to “stake” favorite viewing locations.
|At 6:00PM, the
Parade now begins at First and State Streets. It travels down State, up
Main, across First, down Whitney, and over a portion of Third. In a
little over an hour, the event is over.
What a fun and full evening we have created for both volunteers and viewers!
During the year preceding each year’s Parade, the Board of Directors organizes the next year’s Parade by raising money, making repairs, and modifying or building floats and costumes. Through personal contributions and two fundraising events: Rock Back the Clock and the Antique and Collectibles Faire, The Board is able to raise the $20,000 necessary to fund the Parade. We are ALWAYS looking for new volunteers to work on this community event!
Michelle Galbraith (President)
Dave Luedtke (Vice President)
Beth Miller (Secretary)
Bob Grimm (Treasurer)
Certificate of Recognition, 2008 Community Legacy Award, Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
Certificate of Recognition, California State Assembly, awarded by Ira Ruskin, 21st District
Certificate of Commendation, Community Legacy Award, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, awarded by Liz Kniss, 5th District Supervisor