ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Holiday Parade rolled down Coast Highway 101 on Dec. 3. The weather cooperated with the annual festivities allowing clear skies by the time Santa and Mrs. Claus lit the tree at the Lumberyard shopping center at 5 p.m.
In honor of the city’s 25th anniversary, the theme celebrated the 1980s era. Madonna lookalikes and neon clothing abound as participants made their way down the parade route. Even 80s music blared from floats, evoking memories of “Top Gun” and “Footloose.”
“Í think the nostalgia of the parade this year is in line with what a lot of us remember growing up,” said Sabrina Laury. The 40-year-old resident remembered well the first years of the city’s growth. “The parade is always something that has been around and we can count on,” she said.
Adventure scout troops and Indian princess groups waited anxiously atop razor scooters until they were called to join the line of floats and marching bands. “This is fun,” said Encinitas resident Jordan Walsh, 7. “My brothers said they would be out there to cheer me on,” he said looking tentatively into the crowd.
An estimated 20,000 people attended the annual event according to city staff. “Even though there are a lot of spectators here you always run into so many people you know,” said Encinitas resident Sharon Wilson. “We end up staying way longer than the parade lasts because we have a chance to catch up with friends we don’t get to see on a regular basis. It makes it feel like a small town again.”
The 54th annual parade featured more than 100 entries, including floats, marching bands and local organizations. This year’s grand marshal was Don Hansen, founder of Hansen’s Surfboards, which is celebrating its 50th year in business.
While the parade celebrated the bridging between each of the city’s five distinct communities, its history isn’t without disagreement. In 2005, former Councilman Dan Dalager, who was then mayor, changed the name of the parade from the Encinitas Holiday Parade to the Christmas Parade without a vote of the council. Some non-Christian and Christian residents alike objected to the change, while others applauded the move to return Christmas to the community spotlight.
Four years after the controversy, the parade name was more than an afterthought for many attendees. “I think it should be called something that everyone can relate to,” said Jared Polk, a Leucadia resident. “It’s a community event during the holidays so it should include everyone. That’s what the spirit of the season is all about.”
Cynthia Davis, a Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident sat along the parade route with her husband, John and toddler twins as the sun went down and the temperature dropped. “The kids love the sights and sounds of the floats and the different characters that come by,” she said. “It was pretty low-key this year but I think Santa is always their favorite no matter what’s in the parade.”