It's never officially Christmas in Antioch until the annual Holiday DeLites parade, which was held Saturday in the heart of Rivertown on a cool-turning-cold day for thousands of kids from one to 92.
Although it was cold, the children's smiles brought warmth to the day, said event organizer Diane Gibson-Gray by e-mail. After the parade, as I walked through the passageway between the city offices and the council chambers, the snow' machine began and the kids were amazed! They held their hands up and cried out, It's snowing!'
Hundreds of participants in the nearly two-hour parade slowly walked, danced, played instruments, waved, demonstrated martial arts moves and shouted Merry Christmas along Second Street from the Antioch Lumber Company to City Hall. Afterward, the hardier revelers gathered in the City Hall parking lot for a Christmas Tree lighting and photos of kids on Santa's lap.
The look of wonder and delight on the children's faces was infectious, said Gibson-Gray. It was so hard to stop the line so that Santa could light the tree. I and another volunteer kept saying, You're the last one,' then we kept changing our mind and letting them go up to Santa. Neither of us wanted to be The Grinch!
Several city officials were on hand for the festivities. At the beginning of the parade Mayor Don Freitas rode in a car while City Councilmen Brian Kalinowski and Arne Simonsen walked the route, greeting residents.
Anyone wanting to see the man who in a few days would be replacing Freitas as Antioch's mayor had to wait until the end of the parade, because once again, Jim Davis and his wife Susan were filling in for the real Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, who were tied up at the North Pole overseeing their elves' construction of Nintendos, Playstations and the like.
We are thrilled again to be able to share time with the kids at the parade, said Susan Davis by e-mail. This was our fourth year in our altered identities.
A soon-to-be city official, Councilwoman-elect Mary Rocha, was also there as one of the judges. It's wonderful, she said. This is a hometown event. We all get to participate. You participate out there by watching it, being in it and judging it. It's really a great thing for children to be able to participate themselves.
One of those children was 3-year-old Taumiana, whose grandmother Sandra Owensby traveled from Pittsburg to see her walk down the street with other young dancers from an Antioch recreation program class. It's great, said Owensby. Plenty of room. Most of the time you go to big things like this, it's so crowded you can't even see anything. So this is kind of cool.
Helping put on the event were city staffers and members of the Antioch High School Key Club and United Citizens for Better Neighborhoods.
Photos taken by Bob Driskell can be viewed at www.art4antioch.org. A video produced by Charlie Ochoa from Give Always to Others & Company will be shown on Comcast cable tonight, Friday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.
The parade winners are Cub Scout Troop 151, Moms Club, Cub Scout Troop 450, Hillside Church, StarMaker, Winners Circle Fair Queen vehicle, Phil Young's roadster, Kathy Rodgriguez, Kiwanas, Melody's Dance Studio, Danzbiz, Step 2 This Dance, Park Middle School Winter Guard, Schmidt Family, Delta Strikers, East Bay Karate, Delta Tumbling, Extreme Tumbling & Cheer, Fascination Twirl, DV Youth Football & Cheer, Antioch Recreation Department, Deer Valley High School band, Antioch High School band and Park Middle School band. Dancers Elite won the Grand Sweepstakes Award.
The Lighted Boat Parade winners are Kevin Park, Terry Leavitt, Nick Rassushin, Dennis and Sharon Higgins, Carl and Elaine Rasmussen and the sheriff's fireboat.