Who doesn’t love a parade?
It’s a question which might be lost on Oakdale City Councilwoman and community volunteer Cher Bairos as she and co-chair members Lisa Ballard and Amy Velasco prepare for the Second Annual Oakdale Christmas Parade.
Hosted this Saturday, Dec. 1, the parade will stage and begin just east of Lee Street and travel eastbound on Poplar Avenue, concluding at North Second. Parade start time is at 6 p.m. Spectators are encouraged to get comfy along the parade route in preparation to enjoy viewing the close to 40 entries.
“Last year it was kind of thrown together in four days,” Bairos explained. “We had eight or nine entries. I was shocked by the number of people in attendance last year.”
Based on the turnout and a passion to keep people in Oakdale for holiday shopping, as well as the Old Fashioned Downtown Christmas event, Bairos began planning the second annual shortly after the inaugural event.
“I’ve always gone to Downtown Christmas,” Ballard said, “so when Cher approached me, I thought that (parade) would be kind of nice.”
Ballard shared that in keeping with the tradition of the Old Fashioned Downtown Christmas event and the celebration of its 10th year, Lloyd Stueve of Stueve Organic, will lead the parade with his horse drawn wagon and Old Saint Nick himself on board. Santa Claus will then be on hand at the downtown event to visit and listen to holiday wishes. Oakdale’s 10th Annual Downtown Christmas is hosted from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. all along North Third Avenue and throughout the downtown area. In addition to local shops extending hours, vendors will also be set up on North Third, offering unique gift ideas and original items.
“Every age loves a parade,” Bairos shared. “Downtown Christmas is awesome, but then you hook a parade to that and it just kind of brings everybody out.”
As testament to that, the parade founder shared a story of a phone call from a spectator traveling from Livermore. According to Bairos she received a call from a lady interested in this year’s parade details. As an attendee of it last year, this year she’ll be bringing a total of nine family members and friends.
“She said, we loved it. We thought how cute and then you have all the stuff going on downtown,” Bairos reported. “That’s what it’s all about. Bringing people to Oakdale and keeping people in Oakdale.”
Holiday music, checking items off the gift list and reconnecting with friends and neighbors are all part of the evening fun.
“It brings people together,” she continued. “You look at the kids’ faces, the kids get excited. The parents get excited. People love it. It’s a good, clean family event.”
As for what attendees will see during the parade, Ballard shared there is no shortage of variety, as everyone from elementary schools to church groups, service groups, cheerleaders and marching bands are on board to travel the parade route.
“We have quite a bit of floats,” she said of the entry increase. “It’s a great way of celebrating and starting of the Christmas season for kids.”
“I love parades and people needed somewhere to go besides out of town,” Bairos added of her excitement for bringing the event to Oakdale for the second year.
Ballard and Bairos also noted that without the help of dedicated volunteers and the entry support the event would not be possible.
The Second Annual Oakdale Christmas Parade is co-sponsored by Oakdale Soccer Club and is free to the community.