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56th Christmas parade: traditional and patriotic

December 01, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

El Centro's 56th annual Los Vigilantes-Merchants Christmas Parade delighted crowds of families and individuals Saturday morning and marked one of the few times each year when no one thinks twice about seeing grown men and women walking down the middle of Main Street with red reindeer antlers on their heads.

The parade included some 120 participating organizations including schoolchildren, local businesses, service organizations and many more.

While the parade featured traditional images of Christmas and the requisite prancing horses and baton twirlers, this year's event also had patriotic elements. Consistent with the parade's theme "United We Stand," many participants held American flags along with their candy canes. Floats were just as likely to feature the Statue of Liberty as they were to carry a Christmas tree.

Standing at the intersection of Main and Eighth streets under a cloudless sky, David Corvera of Imperial was enjoying his seventh consecutive trip to the Christmas parade in El Centro. Along for the fun were his two sons, Zachary, 7, and Nicholas, 4.

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Corvera said he likes parades, especially the marching bands.

"I just love the routine and precision. I just love the sound," he said.

"I don't think a parade is interesting without a marching band," Corvera said.

Other crowd favorites included the various car clubs that brought shiny low-riders and immaculate classic cars dressed up in garlands and bows. Also receiving extra interest from the crowd were bike-riding groups whose members performed stunts on their bikes while weaving around each other along the parade route.

Bringing up the rear of the parade was, perhaps, the day's most popular man, Santa Claus.

Corvera said his son, Zachary, is getting to the age where he has begun to question Santa's existence.

Despite his doubts, Zachary's head still turned to try to catch a glimpse of the fabled man as he continued down the parade route.

>> Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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