As community members may be giving thought to their Thanksgiving feasts, members of the Oakdale Enrichment Society are not just counting their blessings but preparing for the Third Annual Christmas Parade.
The event will be hosted Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. The route will continue to run down Poplar, with line up taking place at 4 p.m. on the west end at Lee and Poplar. The parade will run east on Poplar to the downtown area.
“I think I’ve personally given out 10 so far,” OES Secretary, Lisa Ballard said of entry forms. She noted the group opened event registration in early November and will continue to accept entry forms up through early December.
All groups, families and community members are welcome to take part in the parade. There is no entry fee to participate. The event will be hosted rain or shine.
“The first year, I think I had nine,” OES Vice President Cher Bairos said of the event entries. Ballard added last year the group hosted 35 entries and hopes to hit 50 this year.
“We’re totally separate from Downtown Christmas,” Bairos continued. “As OES we’re in charge of the parade. Tammy Blevins of London Fox will take care of the downtown event. Lloyd Stueve will be taking Santa through the parade and to the downtown event on his wagon.”
And while the two events are separate, in keeping with the spirit and foundation of what OES has been built on, the group shared the parade is hosted on this date to not just support the Oakdale holiday event downtown, but encourage community members to stay and enjoy it.
“I want to make sure it’s a community event,” Ballard said. “Like Cher said it’s not part of the downtown event but we want to bring people to the downtown. OES would like to keep people downtown and that’s why we’re having our event on the same night.”
The OES board is hopeful for a variety of entries as they have seen present in the past. They are also excited and hopeful to once again have a large crowd assemble along Poplar to enjoy the participants’ efforts.
“We’ve had over 15,000 people view the event from our Facebook post and last year was great,” OES President Amy Velasco shared. “We’re hoping that this year is even better.”
The women added they are grateful to the City of Oakdale as well as the neighboring homes along the route for their continued support, noting the willingness the neighborhood has given to OES for the third year. As evidence of their gratitude, the board said they would hope attendees stay mindful and respectful of others’ property. They also noted that due to City guidelines as well as pollution prohibitive, entries are not permitted to throw candy along the route.
“Seeing everybody waving and all the different entries in the parade and seeing Astoria (senior residents) there,” Bairos shared of her fondest memory, “that was … that got to me. That was the biggest thing for me. I just love it.”
“It’s just rewarding,” Velasco added. “It’s so much bigger than us, but to know you were a part of something like this and see the joy, it’s truly rewarding.”
As a longtime Oakdale Joint Unified School District employee as well as local volunteer, Ballard noted the children as a key part of her joy for the event.
“Seeing all the kids, smiling and so happy. That made my heart happy. Oakdale needs that, just for the community and to get people out there,” Ballard said of her fondest memories from previous years.
Community members interested in participating in the parade may email committee members at firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Velasco at (209) 840-2273 or Bairos at (209) 496-1134.