On Nov. 28 and 29, the Hollister Downtown Association will host a modified version of the 30th annual Lights On Parade. For a COVID-safe experience, attendees will come to the Hollister Municipal Airport and drive through a planned route past this year’s parade floats.
Teri Escamilla, events manager for HDA, referred to the format as a “reverse parade.”
The reverse parade solution came from Parade Director Ray Pulver, “who saw this idea successfully executed over the summer in Montgomery, Ohio,” Escamilla told BenitoLink. “We were also inspired by the Los Gatos Annual Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Lake.”
Floats will be sponsored by several local organizations, including the Girl Scouts, Lucky’s Supermarket, Pet Friends, Hollister Ace Hardware, and the California Lifestyles Car Club. Floats by some local dance schools will also appear, including the San Benito Dance Academy, Flying Colors Dance, Ha’ Hula, and Yamamoto Hula Ohana.
Vanessa Rosa, a Girl Scout mom and the wife of HDA Vice President Omar Rosa, said the scouts’ float will take on a Santa’s workshop theme.
“We’re really excited to spread our message, to bring joy to the community, and cheer,” Rosa said.
In spite of canceled events, Rosa said local girl scouts have tried to keep busy with food drives, visiting polling places on Election Day and making flower pots for essential workers. The reverse Lights On Parade is yet another opportunity to work with the community.
“We’re always trying to be involved,” she said. “It’s all the troops in Hollister that I’m really proud of.”
The Community FoodBank of San Benito County has also entered a float in the reverse parade and asks patrons to bring canned goods to donate for families in need. This is the first time the food bank has participated in the annual event.
“We thought it would be a fun way to be a part of the community and of the festive holiday spirit, as well as an opportunity for people to provide donations,” said Sarah Nordwick, the food bank’s director of community outreach and development.
The reverse Lights On Parade is an innovative twist on the traditional parade. Still, it poses some challenges, especially in terms of traffic. Escamilla said that HDA representatives met with the Hollister Police Department on Nov. 20 to plan how to safely and efficiently send cars through the parade route.
In the end, the organizers hope that the “reverse parade” format will be only a temporary adjustment. “We look forward to going back to our usual parade in 2021,” Escamilla said.
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