EL CENTRO — The 74 annual El Centro Christmas Parade proceeded as planned under a blanket of clouds that shrouded Imperial Valley Saturday, December 7. As the parade ended by noontime, it started to sprinkle slightly.
Earlier, teams of parade announcers, positioned at strategic locations along the route, introduced each of the 126 parade entries.
Stephen Hayes was positioned at the corner of Main Street and 8th Street to announce the parade entries. He was a first-time volunteer parade announcer.
“It was fantastic,” said Hayes. “I’ve got a great view of the parade and got to know who were in the parade. I waved and interacted with the crowd around me.”
According to Hayes, the rain didn’t matter. What mattered most was to see the smiling faces of children and watch the excitement of band members who worked so hard.
Parade fans sat along the curb and waved at parade participants. Some parade participants distributed candy and goodies. People greeted and waved at each other. Mobile vendors sold toys and umbrellas. School band members played music as they marched. Cheerleaders chanted their routines. There were tractors, vintage cars, new cars, horses, and puppies.
The Christmas parade was a joint project by the El Centro Chamber of Commerce, Los Vigilantes, and the city of El Centro. Every parade participant entry had a chance to win in their designated category. There were four categories, plus the sweepstakes winner.
El Centro Regional Medical Center’s entry, “The March of the Toy Soldiers”, won in two categories—business category and the coveted top prize, sweepstakes winner.
Children’s Foundation of Imperial Valley won in the public service category; Saint Mary’s Catholic School, religious category; Its A Small World, youth category.
“The hospital conceived the idea from input of members of a special committee,” said Richard Morales, marketing and events coordinator at ECRMC. “Our hard days worked! It was really rewarding to be recognized for a great job,” said Morales, who was interviewed by phone by the Desert Review.
Kimberly Cabrera brought her family and mother to the Christmas parade.
“I’m here to see my daughter come out in the dance for Dogwood Heber Elementary,” said Cabrera, referring to her five-year-old kindergartner, Leanny. Siblings, Joseph and Isaiah, anticipated the arrival of their little sister.
Cabrera’s family sported red-themed clothes. “We are all wearing red because I believe Christmas is a time when everybody comes together to be united. The color red I’ve associated with love.”
According to Cabrera, she has carried on the tradition of bringing her family to the Christmas parade in El Centro. She recalled that her mother, Maria Escobedo, brought them to the parade every year since they were small. Cabrera also participated in the parade when she was a student at Southwest High School years.
“Since I got married, we’ve brought our children since they were little. We have been coming for about 30 years,” said Escobedo.