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Our View: Community lights up for the holidays

Our View
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One of the first signs that the holidays are here – besides the display of Christmas decorations for sale in some stores as early as October – are lights. Typically over the Thanksgiving weekend, homeowners unwind strands of icicle lights and drag out a reluctant kid to hold the ladder as they balance atop and hook those beautiful sparklers to the gutter. The twinkle of elegant white lights or playful multi-color strands coupled with festive lawn ornaments can bring a bright smile from any passersby. This year, one part of Auburn will be dark while another will keep the lights blazing for an event that has become an “institution” in the area for some. For the past 25 years, Auburn’s Frank Calabretta has gone all out in the name of Christmas spirit. His display of thousands of lights and holiday lawn ornaments next to his bond business at Atwood Road has drawn hoards of viewers every year. However, this year will be different. Calabretta will keep the lights off. In a recent Journal interview, the longtime local businessman said a combination of the cost – last year he paid $18,000 to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to keep the Christmas cheer running all month – and a recent theft made him decide to sit this season out. In August, Calabretta revealed that someone took a clay baby Jesus statue specially made in Mexico and 2,000 lights from a storage shed on his property. Calabretta said during the summer that he was hesitant to put up the display again because of the theft and the poor economy. Recently, he confirmed that he’s pulling the plug. “I’m not going to do it again this year,” Calabretta told the Journal. “I’m seeing a lot of vandalism so I’m leery of putting the display up again.” Calabretta has provided a wonderful display for the community at his own cost, and many are certainly disappointed that this Christmas they’ll have to seek out other light displays. However, Calabretta’s reasons are understandable. He deserves a hearty thank you from all of us and we wish him a happy holiday. Hopefully this Christmas whoever was the Scrooge who stole part of the display will leave baby Jesus and the lights on Calabretta’s doorstep. In the meantime, those in the festive holiday mood should attend the city’s annual Festival of Lights parade in Downtown Auburn Saturday. This year’s theme is the “Light in a Child’s Eyes.” The event is rain or shine so bundle up, pack an umbrella or poncho just in case and watch the 100 floats parade down Lincoln Way and High Street and past Central Square’s Christmas tree. In the past, up to 15,000 people have attended to kick off the holiday season in Auburn. The annual tradition will also be a time to “cyclebrate” Auburn’s success in garnering a bid to host the start of Stage 3 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California in May. On Saturday night, Auburn Bike Works, Victory Velo Bike Shop and Bicycle Emporium are teaming up to be the parade’s grand marshals. The community’s large turnout May 16 when the cyclists in the 2010 race made a pass through the city was one of the reasons tour organizers brought them back to Auburn. Let’s continue to show our community spirit for events produced by our own. Come out to the lights parade, see your neighbors walking cheerfully next to festive and well-lit floats, and stay until the very end to give a happy wave to Santa Claus. --------------------------- Festival of Lights Parade, “The Light in a Child’s Eyes” What: Auburn’s annual kickoff event for the holiday’s featuring 100 lighted floats When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine Where: The parade starts at Lincoln Way and Cherry Street and ends at the Gold Country Fairgrounds For more information: Call the Auburn Chamber of Commerce at (530) 885-5616 or visit auburnchamber.net