ENCINITAS — Despite the slumping economy and lagging retail sales, the annual holiday parade managed to draw an unprecedented number of spectators as the floats and marching bands made their way along Coast Highway 101 on Dec. 6.
After a tree-lighting ceremony at the Lumberyard shopping center, complete with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the parade got under way to the theme of a “Storybook Holiday.” The literary-themed event featured Grand Marshal Morris Pike, better known as “Captain Book,” the founder of Captain Book Children’s Literacy Program.
Several participants and spectators agreed that this year’s parade was a sign of turbulent economic times. “I think more people are here this year because we don’t have as many parties to go to or aren’t as busy out buying presents,” Carlsbad resident Sharon Lindsburg said. “This event is great because it really shows what’s important during the season,” she said. “Your family and friends.”
“I think it takes something like a recession to remind people that stuff isn’t very important,” Larry Gilbert said. “It can all disappear in an instant.” The Encinitas resident watched the parade with his wife, Lisa, and their two toddlers. “This is more fun for them,” Lisa said, motioning to her children as they watched each float with wide eyes. “This is where memories are made.”
This year’s parade featured 89 entries including marching bands, scout troops, local business and organizations as well as religious institutions. “This is the one day of the year where so much of the town comes together,” Melissa Dorien said. Dorien’s daughter, Meghan, marched in the parade. “Most of us have been impacted negatively by the downturn in the economy,” she said. “But it doesn’t seem like anybody is really thinking about that tonight.”
Indeed, Mary Shepard understands the difficulties that many families will face this holiday season. “We’ve become so accustomed to buying our way to happiness that now that most of us don’t have the disposable incomes we’re used to, we’re turning to each other.” The Solana Beach resident said that many of her family members and friends had opted not to give typical presents this year. “We decided that we would have a treasure hunt instead of the usual gift exchange at my in-laws house.” She added that all of the “treasures” would be no-cost items.
As the parade wound down with Santa and Mrs. Claus bringing up the rear, Stan Preston said he was foregoing a dinner out with his family. “We brought our dinner from home instead of eating out tonight,” he said. “That’s a small price to pay compared to what a lot of people are going through.”