Annual Parade of Lights glows bigger and brighter
IMPERIAL — A significant increase in both participants and spectators prompted slight changes to the annual Parade of Lights.
Now in its 16th year, Friday’s parade was pushed back from its traditional 6 p.m. start time to 6:30 p.m. in order to give attending families more leeway to arrive on time.
“Our parade is growing more and more each year,” Imperial Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Paradis said. “People are having a hard time getting into the city and finding parking. Most of them are also just coming off of work, so we decided to push it back half an hour in hopes of those people not being so rushed.”
This year’s parade also shortened its route by a few blocks. It began on 11th Street, as opposed to its previous starting point on 15th Street.
“It was very clear last year that we needed to give more access into the city for people, and by shortening the route, it allows more entries into the city for the community,” Paradis said. “It also lightens the load in respect to parking and being at the parade on time.”
The best part of the event didn’t change, however.
That was the sights and sounds of local marching bands playing in step and the brightly lit floats gliding along South Imperial Avenue to Fourth Street.
The parade included more than 80 entries, which was a slight increase from last year, Paradis said.
“I’m not sure what it is that draws the people, but my guess is that it’s something different,” she said. “With it being at night and having everything lit up, it’s Christmas-y; it’s all about Christmas.”
The parade, as per tradition, concluded with a community tree lighting ceremony held at City Hall.
The Imperial Youth Football Pee Wee team, which recently competed at the AYF National Championships in Orlando, Fla., rides on the Imperial County Sheri ’sO ce float during the 16th annual Parade of Lights held Friday night in Imperial.
Local Girl Scouts give a wave while riding on their decorated group float during the 16th annual Parade of Lights held Friday night in Imperial.
A young girl in the crowd playfully attempts to eat the fake snow dispensed from the city of El Centro Community Services float during the 16th annual Parade of Lights held Friday night in Imperial. VINCENT OSUNA
Natalia Nero, 12, and the Frank Wright Middle School drill team perform a routine during the 16th annual Parade of Lights held Friday night in Imperial.
The Frank Wright Middle School marching band performs during the 16th annual Parade of Lights held Friday night in Imperial. PHOTO VINCENT OSUNA