Holiday of Lights Parade brings cheer to San Juan Bautista

13th annual Rotary event features a visit from Santa.

Locals and visitors lined the streets of San Juan Bautista on Dec. 1 as the 13th annual Holiday of Lights Parade rolled through downtown.

People sipped from hot beverages and parents lifted their children for a better view while vehicles decorated in lights drove down the street and other participants walked in groups.

Put on by the Rotary Club of San Juan Bautista, Rotarian Vicki Morris said the event is about creating a holiday tradition “to support the community and merchants and to get people to come into town with their families.”

Margaret Martinez, owner of Seasons Handcrafts in downtown San Juan Bautista, is one such merchant who appreciates the Holiday of Lights Parade.

“It’s pretty and it grows every year,” Martinez said. “Let’s keep it going.”

Though the parade is located in San Juan Bautista, participants included folks from the surrounding area. Featured were the San Juan School Grupo Folklórico and Brewery Twenty Five, as well as San Benito High School Marching Band and Color Guard, Monterey Bay Community Power, Mansmith’s Gourmet, Urban Motion, and Hollister Hills.

Michael Sokacz Jr., a member of the Monterey Viejo chapter of the E Clampus Vitus organization, walked with his wife Danna and had a float in this year’s parade.  

“Events like this get people involved,” Sokacz said.

As the parade came to a close, Santa (resident Max Martinez) was seen riding on a fire truck waving at excited children and audience members. People who wanted to meet Santa in person following the parade were able to take photos or ask for a desired present on their wish list, as Santa pulled up in the fire truck at the corner of Mariposa and Third Streets.

As people started to clear the sidewalks and the holiday lights brightened the streets below, Sokacz said fondly of the parade: “It’s not long enough.”



Becky Bonner

Becky Bonner is a local teacher at San Benito High School who is passionate about sharing things to do in San Benito County.