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Chamber honoring parade sponsors at mixer

Festival of Lights to set Auburn aglow on?Dec. 3
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Business sponsorships keep the wheels rolling for Auburn’s annual Festival of Lights Parade and this year’s sponsors will get special recognition at Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours mixer, “This year we decided to use the November mixer, just two and a half weeks before the Festival of Lights Parade, to kick off the season and honor all our sponsors,” Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Cosgrove said Tuesday. In a salute to the holidays, there will be a full-on Christmas glow to the mixer, which is being held at the Holiday Inn in Auburn. “Weather permitting, we’ll be outdoors in the pool/garden area,” Cosgrove said. “We’ll have Christmas carolers, we’re putting up a Christmas tree and putting twinkle lights in the trees.” Twenty-five to 30 sponsors have signed on so far, including the city of Auburn, Harris Industrial Gases and the Auburn Recreation District. Plus, new this year, there’s a presenting sponsor — Raley’s supermarket chain, which made a cash donation and is also providing the food for the mixer. There’s still time to sign up for a sponsorship. The chamber has introduced the “Holiday Gift Box” promotion for local businesses. “For $50, $250 or $500 they can buy a box (they get progressively bigger as donation increases). The idea was to get them involved for $50. They get a standard size box at the chamber and then decorate it to represent their businesses,” Cosgrove said. For the parade, the boxes will ride on the chamber’s float — a huge flatbed truck. “We’ll place the boxes on (the truck) and they’ll all be lit,” he said. Businesses will place their logo on two sides so it will be visible on both sides of the parade route. Parade ready to light up The holiday parade draws from 14,000 to 20,000 spectators, “which is pretty good for a city of 13,000,” Cosgrove said. Attendees stake out their favorite viewing spot hours in advance. By early afternoon, dozens of empty chairs line the Lincoln Way and High Street parade route. “Families plan their Saturday — the first Saturday in December — around the Festival of Lights,” Cosgrove said. “We get calls seeking confirmation of the time of the parade because they are planning dinner parties in advance or after the parade.” And there’s ample parking to handle all those visitors. “Parking has never been a problem,” Cosgrove said. “There is parking at the fairgrounds and the immediate commercial areas adjacent to downtown have been very gracious. We’ve never had complaints.” There are about 70 entries for the parade so far, which tracks well with previous years, he said. There are always at least 100 entries. Chamber board member Steve Galyardt, in his fourth year as parade chairman, is very enthusiastic about the parade and the mixer. “Think Auburn First is the grand marshal this year,” he said. “We’re highlighting our local business community as we go into the holiday season. They’ve brought awareness of what we can do, not only from the perspective of spending local, but how to make the community better. They’ve done such a fantastic job. They and their members will be marching under the banner of Think Auburn First. The community flavor of the event is something that has always impressed Galyardt. “We’ve never had pro float makers,” he said. “People make them on their own time and it’s very exciting. It’s the prettiest parade I’ve ever seen. It’s magical. It’s the Rotarians who work on the street. It’s Harvey Roper who always has a contingency downtown to see the route remains open. It’s people who volunteer their time so the children can see this parade or it wouldn’t happen. We may have as many as 65 or 70 volunteers out on the parade route that night.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. ------------ Auburn Chamber of Commerce Business after Hours mixer and Festival of Lights sponsor VIP reception When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17 Where: Holiday Inn, 120 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn Cost: $12 for members and $20 for non-members Festival of Lights Parade: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in Downtown Auburn Theme is “Auburn, it’s a Wonderful life … in Lights” More information: Call the Auburn chamber at (530) 885-5616