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Calexico Christmas parade unites communities

December 09, 2001|By MARIO RENTERIA, Staff Writer

CALEXICO n Thousands of Imperial Valley and Mexicali families took to downtown Calexico on Saturday for the 50th annual Calexico Christmas Parade.

"It's very pretty for the community, so they can all unite," said Yvonne Mendez de Gallegos of Mexicali.

She was watching the parade with her 2-year-old son, Noe.

Mendez has been coming to the parade since she was a child, when she came with her parents, and wants to pass on the tradition to her children.

The parade started about 10 a.m. in front of Apple Market-Super Shopping on Mary Avenue and Second Street.

The parade headed west on Second, then turned north on Rockwood Avenue. From Rockwood the parade headed east on Fourth Street past the Hotel De Anza.

In front of the hotel bands stopped and played for judging. After passing the hotel the parade ended at Rockwood Plaza in front near the Police Department.

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Daniel Gutierrez of Imperial said, "This is the best parade in the Imperial Valley."

"It has more of a hometown flavor. That makes the parade, a lot of noise," he said while a marching band passed.

Lupe Rodriguez of Calexico praised Hildy Carrillo-Rivera, executive director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce, for her role in pulling together the parade.

This year's grand marshal was former De Anza Junior High track and cross-country coach David Tessada.

He was joined in the parade by candidates from local political offices, 12 to 15 floats and hundreds of kids from marching bands and school groups.

About 105 groups and businesses participated in the parade.

Jesus Jimenez of El Centro said, "I like coming to the parade to watch the local bands. The bands make the parade exciting."

He said he's been coming to watch the parade for five to six years. He was watching the parade with his three children, sister and four nephews.

In 1951 Calexico's 20-30 Club staged the first-ever Christmas parade, according to Joe Vindiola of the 20-30 Club.

"It lasted about 15 minutes and there were about three floats," he told a reporter earlier this week.

In the early 1970s the parade became a big binational affair through the efforts of Carmen Durazo.

She was the first person to invite Mexicali groups, according to Carrillo-Rivera. Mexicali groups have participated since, including Saturday.

>>Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie contributed to this story.

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