The air was filled with sirens signaling the arrival of Santa Claus. The crowd went wild when they saw Old St. Nick in the antique Santa Paula Fire Department engine accompanied by other trucks and the happy children of firefighters.

“A Musical Fantasy Christmas”

December 03, 2014
Santa Paula News

What many believe is a record crowd flocked to the 65th Annual Optimist Club Christmas Parade Saturday where more than 50 entries filled East Main Street with a procession that lasted 90 minutes.

“Some people are saying there’s maybe 4,000 people here but I don’t think so,” but Parade Coordinator Ron Merson said there could be as many as 3,000 lining East Main Street where parade watchers were stacked three to four deep from 7th to 11th streets.

This year there were five Judges to decide on the best of the entries: Marleen Canniff, Robin Binder-Gillette, Michele Johns, Santa mini-dress-clad Seana-Marie Sesma and Juanita Vega.

Anita Gonzalez assisted parade moderator Peggy Kelly, Jorge Cancino of the Santa Paula Recreation Department coordinated the sound and Bob Allen of handled camera work for the procession, now available for viewing online. 

Themed A Musical Family Christmas the parade drew entries ranging from marching bands to private music groups, including those that provided the tunes for dancing horses. Some entries had iPads plugged into speakers and the jingling or bells seemed to be heard over the entire parade route.

The procession featured Mrs. Claus riding a vintage tractor with the Topa Topa Flywheelers early on and ended with The Man With All the Toys himself, Santa Claus waving at the crowd from atop the Santa Paula Fire Department’s 1923 Seagrave engine. In between there were more than 50 other entries some featuring dozens of participants, all waving to the crowd. 

Educator, musician and Latino Town Hall President Lorenzo Moraza was the Grand Marshal riding in a vintage convertible with his wife Connie and others while shyly returning the waves of the crowd.

The weather was Santa Paula perfect and, “We had a fantastic turn out with the entries,” said Merson.

So many in fact that, “It caused logistic problems on the back streets that the crowd does not even know about... that’s the way it should be.”

A new entry, Volkswagen Unlimited of Ventura County, “Loved our parade and were surprised by the number of people watching, even on the side streets and lineup area.”

The relatively new car club - which garnered a top prize - was also a big hit with the crowd with it’s lead car as cute as a Bug decorated as Rudolph down to a red nose, antlers and long lashes on its headlight eyes.

Templo de Milagra (Church of Miracles) with their singing Christmas trees - harmonizing children dressed as the green holiday staple - won the top prize, the Sweepstakes Trophy for Best Use of Theme.

Director Nohemi Herrera “Went wild when she received the trophy on their behalf,” said Merson.

Other winners were Equestrian, 1st Cindy Rodriguez and Family, 2ndRancho el Paraiso; Novelty Youth, 1st Santa Paula Diamond Cheer, 2nd Santa Paula Youth Football and Pep Squad; Novelty Adult 1st Tradition of St Cecilia, 2nd Santa Paula Fitness; Float, 1st Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 2nd Santa Paula Hospital; and Auto, 1st Volkswagen Unlimited, 2nd Motorcycle Riders of Ventura County.

From the first moment when Pepe Gonzales released the “Wings of Grace” doves everyone knew this year’s parade was going to be extra special from the roaring sirens of Santa Paula Police vehicles and the combined Boy Scout Troop and Packs Color Guard to the “Rakkasans” 187th Airborne Color Guard/Charles O’Donnell Chapter Ventura County that brought parade goers to their feet.

The high stepping Isbell Middle School Marching Band was followed by more veterans, dozens of members of the Mercer-Prieto VFW Post #2043, Korean War Veterans Association Ventura County Chapter #56 and Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County riding in a variety of vehicles.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas was City Councilman Martin Hernandez and Congresswoman Julia Brownley before the Topa Topa Flywheelers rumbled up the street riding their vintage tractors, each decorated for the holiday.

The Santa Paula Hospital float paid tribute to the Frozen Magical Kingdom complete with snowflakes and miniature Olaf’s and the American Heritage Girls marched in their patriotic red, white and blue uniforms.

More decorations were in store with the Ventura County Model A Ford Club offering nostalgic vehicles dressed in tinsel and garlands, some with stuffed toys and happy children in the rumble seats and DJ Rage, 16-year-old sensation Daniel Alvarez spun some spirited tunes.

And speaking of spirit, the SPIRIT of Santa Paula took a break from their work to help the homeless and those in need to take part in the parade, and they were followed by dozens of Santa Paula Youth Football and Cheer Squad members showing their enjoyment of the holiday.

Crown Disposal’s red truck was quiet compared to the dozens of Motorcycle Riders of Ventura County who revved their engines and raised the crowd’s excitement level.

The combined Girl Scout Troops of the Heritage Valley received strong applause, a good warm up for the cheers for equestrian/stunt rider Cindy Rodriguez standing atop three horses while her family members held the reins to a cart pulled by a miniature horse.

Halos Youth Baseball looked angelic but determined to continue to improve their sports skills and Skillin Carroll Mortuary have a lively bunch of employees dressed in matching white SC polo shirts as they drove the route in several fun vehicles.

Santa Paula High School Cheer showed they are tops when it comes to generating enthusiasm and Poder Popular de Santa Paula was on hand to promote healthy bodies, healthy minds and an active community.

The award winning Santa Paula High School Marching Band led by Director Doug Kadansky and Assistant Director Jerry Cruz played lively holiday tunes and Salena Maloney-Bracamontes’ State Farm Insurance showed why it is becoming an area favorite.

Everyone was delightfully “Bugged” by the parade debut of Volkswagen Unlimited which had numerous VW models to show off while Our Lady of Guadalupe Church had its “Singing Angels” on a float made for Heavenly bodies. 

“A Farm School” had its students and all sorts of resident animals all dressed in the holiday theme, some that visited with the parade goers including a dog with an antler headpiece.

Ranchos Laguna Farms, Vasquez and Las Palmas had an equestrian display, float and band filling the street with magnificent horses and riders of all ages led by a young trick roper.

Santa’s Little Helpers were also on hand as was Gold Coast Broadcasting and the Santa Paula Little League float holding dozens of players including those with 2014 Champion Teams. Team Clutch, girls and boys’ baseball and softball, also had a float featuring players and coaches.

Showing a real workout on a flatbed was Santa Paula Fitness led by owner Dr. Vanessa White and taking a break from hard sports work was members of AYSO Region 82 Youth Soccer and their coaches celebrating their 50th anniversary.

The crowd was thrilled with the Rancho el Pariso Dancing Horses, which magnificently jumped, pranced and delicately sidestepped their way up the street carrying their traditionally attired riders.

Valle de la Comunidad Church had a float rich with holiday colors and balloons and Vons also made an appearance with Christmas Madness - Ingredients for Life and to remind customers they will soon be converting to reusable bags. 

There were plenty of cheers for Santa Paula Diamond Cheer, which had a float, and marchers who took a break for a demonstration of their gymnastic cheering skills followed by the United Car Clubs of Ventura County, which showed what many people would want for Christmas... a restored fine car. Santa Paula Auto Body and McCoy’s Towing had a reminder to never drink and drive and showed off some of their quality repairs. 

And you can’t have a parade without a Corvette convertible and Santa Paula Community Bank Division President Don Tello was at the wheel of a beauty. 

Conejo Valley Model A was the perfect group to follow with Ford’s made from 1928 to 1931 and Kids of Hope - Esperanza Project of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church followed with posed angels. 

Fillmore Cowboys and Charros including members from Santa Paula and Oxnard showed off with a variety of wonderful steeds and riders and the Museum of Ventura County Agricultural Museum urged everyone to attend their after the parade party.

The Bolanos Family showed “A King is Born” with a touching float and then giant figures danced up the street, Holaf from “Frozen” and Baymax from “Big Hero” as portrayed by the Tradition of St. Ceclia, celebrating the patron saint of musicians. 

The Santa Paula Rotary Sleigh was accompanied by Interact Club Elves who accepted donations for the annual Christmas Basket Program and then, as only fitting, the air was filled again with sirens signaling the arrival of Santa Claus.

The crowd went wild when they saw Old St. Nick in the antique Santa Paula Fire Department engine accompanied by other trucks and the happy children of firefighters. 

Following the parade area children received candy canes from Santa at Fire Station 1, who explained he could not stay but was happy to greet all - especially since the children would be sleeping when he returns late Christmas Eve. 

To make arrangements to pickup ribbons you have not received please call Ron at 525-9439 after 7:00 pm in the evenings. To watch the parade online visit

Educator, musician and Latino Town Hall President Lorenzo Moraza was the Grand Marshal riding in a vintage convertible with his wife Connie and others

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