Downtown lights parade scheduled Sunday

Town Crier File Photo 
The cavalcade of floats at the annual Festival of Lights Parade culminates in the elaborate float featuring Santa Claus and his reindeer, above. 

One of Los Altos’ biggest events of the year is scheduled 6 p.m. Sunday, when the 41st annual Festival of Lights Parade is set to fill downtown Los Altos with a wide array of colorful sights and sounds.

An estimated 1,300 performers are expected to participate in the procession of floats, marching bands and costumed characters along Main and State streets. Thousands more will line city sidewalks to cheer them on.

Parade organizer Nancy Schneider said this year’s parade includes 61 entries, beginning with the Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band of San Francisco and ending with the elaborate “Festival of Lights” float featuring Santa Claus and his reindeer. In between are several high school marching bands, a holiday-themed routine from Marti’s Dance Studio in Los Altos and several other illuminated floats, including a new one featuring Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred-Acre Wood.

Launched in 1977 by Los Altos merchants, the illuminated parade is modeled after a similar tradition at Disneyland. Over the years, a group of volunteers has taken on the operations of the parade, under the nonprofit Festival of Lights Parade Association. The parade’s yearly theme is “A Child’s Holiday Fantasy.”

“A group of very dedicated volunteers work on bringing this parade to our community all year long,” Schneider said. “The money that is needed to make this happen is from donations from the community.”

She urged prospective donors to “please visit our website and donate. And if you’d like to join in and be part of the fun next year, please let us know.”

Festival organizers ask that attendees not set up or reserve sidewalk space for parade viewing until after noon on parade day. Spectators should mark their space with blankets and refrain from using tape or chalk. Due to an estimated 12,000 potential spectators, organizers urge parade-goers to leave pets at home.

In the event of rain, parade organizers will post cancellation of the event on the Parade Association’s website,, by 3 p.m. Sunday. The website also has details on handicapped parking, the parade route and location of restrooms.

“We will not have a make-up day for the parade this year,” Schneider said.

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