NAF El Centro Holiday Parade of Lights illuminates the night with floats and bands

The colorful Toy Story float from the American Operations Corporation (AOC) Support Services garnered lots of attention at the Holiday Parade of Lights at NAF El Centro Friday night.

EL CENTRO – The Naval Air Facility El Centro (NAFEC) celebrated its 20th annual Holiday Parade of Lights Friday night with  food, local marching bands, firetrucks, and of course, thousands of colorful lights.

The event brought in about 1,630 guests and 29 entries into the naval base for the annual float and band competitions. Marching bands from Seeley, McCabe, Holtville High, as well as the Heber drumline, participated in the parade and competition. Seeley Elementary took the prize for Best in Show for elementary schools, while Holtville High School won the high school division.

Along with the marching bands, cheerleaders from Holtville High and Imagine School strutted their stuff for the cheering crowd. Many guests said they attended the parade to support their children and cheer them on through the blaring sounds of sirens and crowd excitement.

While many guests said they favored the marching bands, there were other entertaining entries in the parade including the Child Youth Program (CYP) of NAFEC, the California Highway Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol, El Centro Police Department, and Sun Community. Many other groups dressed up, decorated their cars, and created colorful floats to please the crowd and catch the judges’ eyes.

The Commanding Officer’s Choice Award was given to the American Operations Corporation (AOC) Support Services and their massive Toy Story float. The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office won the Executive Officer’s Choice Award with their decorated trucks, boats, and off-road vehicles. The CYP won the Command Master Chief’s Choice Award with a tropical Christmas themed float.

The Border Patrol brought a stampede of police horses, while Fiesta Tortillas handed out free flour tortillas from their company truck, and the Revolution Car Club brought bouncing hydraulic low riders with neon under glow lights.

Several parade goers agreed their favorite part of this year’s parade was seeing Buzz Lightyear rise into the air in his spaceship on AOC’s Toy Story float. Other guests voted their favorite part was hearing all the bands play Christmas music. Overall, parade attendees said they were happy to spend time with their families during the holiday season.

One parade attendee named Busse said she’s brought her son to the annual event for the last seven years. They both agreed their favorite part of the parade was seeing the creative floats.

“We love this parade because it’s so small and family-oriented,” said Busse.