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Festival of Lights parade heralds the holiday season in Auburn

Santa Claus is coming to town on Saturday
By: Megan Moore, Journal Correspondent
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Festival of Lights parade

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Where: Lincoln Way and Cherry Avenue, High Street, Pleasant Avenue
Residential Access Points: Gum Lane and Borland Avenue
 

’Tis the season for the Festival of Lights. The parade will be held Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. and will end around 7 p.m. 

“The Festival of Lights parade is the start of the holiday season in the city of Auburn,” Steve Galyardt, chairman of the parade, said. “It will have 110 floats and can attract up to 20,000 people.
“There will be traffic control all through the parade route. We have over 100 volunteers, Rotarians, police officers, Boy Scouts. It’s quite a community event, to see all the people working behind the scenes, it’s really wonderful,” he said. 
 
The official start of the parade is the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Cherry Way. The parade goes down High Street, turns on Pleasant Avenue and ends at Overlook Park, he added. 
 
According to Galyardt, residents will have two access points. The first access point will be on Gum Lane, and the second will be on Borland Avenue.
 
Borland Avenue is the staging area for the parade and will be closed from 3 p.m. until the last float leaves the street, expected to be around 6:30 p.m.
 
Once all floats have left Borland Avenue, it will become the primary residential access point and the access point on Gum Lane will close. 
 
The streets along the parade route will close at 5:30 p.m., but streets will open up as the parade passes, Galyardt said.  
 
The theme of the parade is, “The light in children’s eyes,” said Galyardt, “it’s absolutely designed for the children of Auburn.” 
 
Girl Scout troop 1685 and Cub Scout troop 12, from Newcastle, will have a float in this year’s parade.
“My girls are going to be reindeers and my boys are going to be elves,” said Amy Donovan, Girl Scout troop leader. “There will be a sleigh behind the reindeer, so it looks like the reindeer are pulling the sleigh and the boys will be walking alongside.”
 
Donovan estimated this is the third or fourth year Girl Scout Troop 1685 has participated in the parade. 
 
“It’s community service for the girls, they would rather be in the parade than watch it,” Donovan said.  
 
The Flying Pig BBQ, a restaurant in Auburn, will also have a float in the parade, but are waiting until the day of the parade to decorate.
 
Cara Smith, from the Flying Pig BBQ, thinks the parade is a wonderful community event and said they will probably go with a Grinch and Whooville theme for their float. 
 
“It’s a great way for people to know who we are, and be a part of the community,” Smith said. 
 
This year’s parade was originally scheduled for Dec. 1, but due to rain it was postponed to Dec. 8. 
 
According to the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, some people have dropped out because of the change of date, but new people have also entered. 
Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital usually participates in the parade, said Mindy Danovaro, Executive Director of Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital foundation, but because of the change in date they don’t have a driver for their float. 
 
“We appreciate the commerce changing the date, I feel badly because this is one of my favorite parades in the entire area,” Danovaro said. 
 
The Festival of Lights parade is what made Galyardt fall in love with Auburn, he said. He added that the annual event won’t be without its grand finale.   
Each year the Auburn Elks Lodge donates Santa’s sleigh, Galyardt said. 
 
“I’ve contacted the North Pole and Santa is coming,” he said. “Santa will be aboard the last float in the parade.”