Community December 1, 2014

Feast, then Frolic: Los Alto’s Festival of Lights Parade

Published on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 00:06
Written by Los Altos Town Crier Staff – Town Crier Report

The 38th annual Festival of Lights Parade, with its floats, bands and costumed characters, is scheduled to light up downtown Los Altos 6 p.m. Sunday along Main and State streets.

This year’s hourlong affair features 59 entries, according to parade volunteer and spokeswoman Nancy Schneider. Entries include 22 floats and marching bands from Los Altos, Mountain View, Homestead, St. Francis and Fremont high schools, among others. Costumed performers from classic fairy tales will be marching along, including new “Alice group cards,” according to Schneider. The popular Snow Queen and her court also will be on hand, waving to the crowd.

This year’s parade features two new floats, accompanied by performing dance troops.

“Our new Nutcracker float has a dance troop with their performance costumes from a ‘Nutcracker’ production they put on during the holidays,” Schneider said. “Our new Santa’s Workshop float has dancing elves behind it, leading Santa and his reindeer.”

The Gingerbread float features a Necco-candy roof with popcorn smoke emanating from the chimney, Schneider said.

Boy and Girl Scouts renovated three push-floats. Kyler Ebbs of Los Altos Troop 37 worked on the Santa’s Workshop float for his Eagle project. Isabel La Plain of Palo Alto Troop 60449 earned a Gold Award for her work on the Nutcracker float. Billy Richards of Sunnyvale Troop 466 worked on the Winter Wonderland float for his Eagle project.

The Festival of Lights Parade is produced every year by a nonprofit association comprising all local volunteers. Their aim is to keep the parade a noncommercial, free event for the community.

“We make and maintain the floats and costumes and organize the parade every year,” Schneider said. “A hundred volunteers come on parade day to drive our floats, push our floats, wear costumes, sell necklaces, help dress and put makeup on our costumed characters and monitor the streets.”

The parade has become a popular tradition in town, drawing 15,000 spectators on average. The city of Los Altos has named the parade a heritage event, so city personnel assist in the coordination and cleanup.

The Los Altos Police Department requests that people not claim space along the parade route before noon the day of the parade. Setup cannot block foot traffic. They also request that spectators put chairs and blankets out to reserve a spot, rather than leave tape or chalk marks for the maintenance crew to clean up.

“When we check the streets before the parade, there has been plenty of room to stand and watch the parade, especially on First and Whitney streets,” Schneider said.

For more information, visit In the event of rain, the parade will be rescheduled 6 p.m. Dec. 7.