IM­PE­RIAL SHINES

An­nual Pa­rade of Lights glows big­ger and brighter

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY VIN­CENT OSUNA Staff Writer

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.

PHOTO VIN­CENT OSUNAL

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.

PHOTO VIN­CENT OSUNA

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.

PHOTO

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

PHOTO 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

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