Oh what a festive night

Annual Downtown parade to honor local firefighters
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Christmas time is (almost) here. As the first weekend of December approaches, volunteers and organizers are gearing up for the annual Festival of Lights parade in Downtown Auburn. The parade serves as a kickoff to holiday festivities in the foothills and this year a special group of grand marshals will lead the charge. Event organizers announced this week that local firefighters who fought in the 49 Fire will lead the parade, which is themed “The Light in a Child’s Eyes.” The annual holiday parade will feature 100 lighted entries and typically draws a crowd of 14,000 onlookers. This year the parade will return to following its traditional route of starting on Lincoln Way and ending at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. About 200 fire personnel from several local fire departments are scheduled to take part in the holiday festivities, according to early estimates from Steve Galyardt, parade chairman. Galyardt said selecting firefighters as the grand marshals “will bring a special feeling to the evening.” Auburn City Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi said he thought it was “awesome” that joint fire departments received the honor. “On behalf of all the fire agencies in Placer County, not just Auburn city, it’s great to include all of the fire agencies,” D’Ambrogi said. “Now more than ever we work together and I think we’ve seen that in action this past year.” D’Ambrogi estimated that 200 fire personnel means about 40 engines driving down the parade route with lights flashing and firefighters waving. “It’s a really good recognition of Placer County fire services as a whole,” D’Ambrogi added. But fire engines won’t be the only stars of the show. Volunteers from the Auburn Elks were readying Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer Friday afternoon. Members were adding last minute touches as miniature replicas for Auburn buildings to the float that will escort the famous man in the red suit into town. Rudy Pelzman, Elks trustee, said the Elks have been preparing Santa’s sleigh for years and said it’s one of many ways the group gives back to the community. He said he thinks the parade is a “fabulous” event for residents. “Since we’ve been here 10 years I may have missed one and it’s not because I wanted to,” Pelzman said. “I think that it’s a beautiful event and we bring our grandchildren.” Santa and his elves will later be waiting for children to come visit him at Tango Frozen Yogurt, located on 940 Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn. Galyardt said he’s looking forward to taking part in the special tradition. “I look forward every year to the holiday season, and I’m proud to be associated with this special event for our community,” Galyardt said. “Working with the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to organize the parade has become a wonderful Auburn tradition.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at ---------- Festival of Lights What: Annual Auburn Festival of Lights parade When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5. A rain date is scheduled for Dec. 6. Where: The route travels through Downtown Auburn starting at the top of Lincoln Way near the Chamber of Commerce office. The route will travel down Lincoln Way to Central Square and then turn onto High Street and continue past Placer High School and end at Gold Country Fairgrounds. Photos with Santa: Santa and his elves will be available for pictures at Tango Frozen Yogurt, 940 Lincoln Way. Professional photos are $5 or bring your own camera. Call: The Chamber of Commerce at (530) 885-5616 or visit ----------