Mon09152014

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Festival of Lights parade set to float into Los Altos Sunday


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The annual Festival of Lights Parade features the new “Penguin Palooza” float.

This year’s Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade will offer a new entry among its lineup. Prepare for “Penguin Palooza” during the 37th annual event, scheduled 6 p.m. Sunday in downtown Los Altos.

“Penguin Palooza,” two years in the making, features penguins in colorful winter clothing enjoying a party with ice skating, fishing and roasting marshmallows. The new float was created on the bed of “It’s a Small World,” one of the parade’s oldest floats.

“Marie Backs and I have wanted to do skating penguins for a long time,” said Nancy Schneider of her co-worker at the all-volunteer Festival of Lights Parade Association. “I saw ‘Happy Feet’ and thought it had such appeal to all ages. Also, we both thought it was unique, totally different from anything else we had since it featured animals.”

According to Schneider, preparing the new float took much time and effort.

“We had San Jose Repertory Theatre update the base of the float early this year, fix the mechanics, and then had a group from the Stanford University Department of Theater and Performance Studies finish it up,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. There wasn’t anywhere to put the float to work on and finish it up. Erik Sunderman, an assistant technical director at Stanford, actually had to bring the float to his house and work on it there.”

Nonetheless, the project proved a labor of love.

“We had such fun thinking of the colors and the types of costumes to put on the penguins,” Schneider said.

Parade volunteers also redesigned the Mother Goose float.

“She is now sitting with bright-orange feet and a fancy bonnet reading her nursery rhymes, accompanied by her storybook characters,” Schneider said.

The revamped float is courtesy of Jacob Kidd, who worked on Mother Goose for his Boy Scout Troop 37 Eagle Scout project.

The parade’s 60 entries, including high school bands and choruses, costumed characters and 24 illuminated floats, all lead up to the grand finale – an appearance by Santa and his reindeer.

Parade organizers urge attendees to refrain from staking out a viewing spot until noon the day of the parade.

“Please do not use tape and chalk – it makes cleanup very difficult,” Schneider said. “Mark your place with blankets or tarps.”

The Festival of Lights Parade Association produces the parade, which costs nearly $20,000 annually.

“We would appreciate your donations, which allow us to update our floats and costumes,” Schneider said.

For more information, including parade routes and guidelines, visit losaltosparade.com. If there is a rain delay, information will be posted on the parade website after 3 p.m. Sunday. If the parade is rained out, it will be rescheduled Dec. 8.

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