Festival of Lights Parade

brings community together
By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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It’s a tradition that brings friends and family together and it’s only 22 days away. Auburn’s Festival of Lights Parade will start at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6, with Dec. 7 as the rain date. A committee of 12 has been ironing out parade details along with help from the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Chairman Steve Galyardt recently announced that there will be a different location for Santa Claus this year and members of the Boys & Girls Club will be parade grand marshals. For the first time, Santa will be at The Big Salad Shop on Lincoln Way and Cherry Avenue at the conclusion of the parade. “We’ve checked with Santa and his schedule and he’s expected to be there,” Galyardt said. Ashley Rich, a cashier and waitress at The Big Salad Shop, is excited about Santa being outside the salad shop. Born and raised in Auburn, the parade has been a tradition with Rich’s family. “I’ve gone to these parades for the past 10 years,” Rich said. “My whole family would make a big event of it and sit and watch the parade.” There are usually at least 100 floats that will start off at the Gold Country Fairgrounds, head down Auburn Folsum Road, up High Street past Placer High School and then end at The Big Salad Shop. The intersection at High Street and Lincoln Way will be completely closed to traffic, as will High Street and Lincoln Way, but High Street will be open from the Bank of America to Elm. Last year, Valerie Harris, Auburn Police chief, said her staff estimated the crowd to be at least 10,000, “but I think it grows every year,” Harris said. “It depends on the weather.” With crowded streets filled with families and young children, Harris urges drivers to exercise patience and caution while the streets are closed off that evening. However, she said her staff appreciates the opportunity to interact with the community. “It’s all hands on deck for us,” Harris said. Thus far, there are 45 entries for the parade, including floats and marching units, according to CEO Bruce Cosgrove of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. The theme for the parade is: “The Light in a Child’s Eyes.” “It’s a great way to kick off the season,” Cosgrove said. “It’s our version of Disneyland’s Electric Light Parade. The floats are lit up and decorated.” The Cabin Fever Quilt Shoppe on Lincoln Way makes sure that parade night is free for its employees, said owner Patti Henderson. “We reserve that night for staff and friends,” Henderson said. “That’s their night to have with their family and friends. A lot of people come here to see our windows.” Another Lincoln Way business, The Capps Group real estate team, celebrates The Festival of Lights with an open house that includes food and beverages for friends and clients. “It’s quite a spectacle,” said Realtor Howard Lockyer. “The floats from special interest groups to Sugar Plum Fairies.” Realtor Carolyn Larson, also with Capps, enjoys the festival atmosphere. “This is so much fun,” Larson said. “We all come in and enjoy the parade and lights. There’s huge participation from the community, which is nice to see. I enjoy watching the kids’ faces as Santa Claus comes by.” With the fairgrounds being used for float staging and such a large crowd expected, Galyardt gave some tips: “There is limited parking so people should come early,” Galyardt said. “The further away you park, the easier it will be to get out.”