As parades go, the Pleasanton’s Hometown Holiday Parade and Celebration is about as classic a small-town experience you can have in Main Street America or Main Street, Pleasanton.
Complete with two high school marching bands, scouts, horses, fire engines, hometown dignitaries, decked-out truckloads of happy children and a Santa Claus finale, the parade never disappoints.
Experienced participants also know that the time and place to feel the true pulse of the parade is in the hour before the annual parade begins.
Thousands of marchers and float riders gather in the staging area, located in the main parking lot at , where city staff organized participants by number.
There, it’s easy to gauge the excitement level.
Repeat performers remember that some years it rains on the parade. Other years the wind blows sideways. Some years it’s chilly and dry.
And on rare occasions, the air feels downright balmy.
But the parade happens every year, rain or shine, without fail.
Fortunately, for some of the newer parade participants, the 2011 Hometown Holiday Parade was just right, with just enough of a chill in the air to remind everyone that December had begun, but with enough warmth to keep the participants and audience comfortable.
Several people made their first Holiday Parade appearance Saturday.
"Lydia" and "Beauty"
For 5th grader, Peyton Cook, the Hometown Holiday Parade represented a pair of firsts.
Peyton rode on a float with cast members from Pleasanton Civic Arts Stage Company’s production of Sleeping Beauty, which will opens its eight show run at the on Dec. 9.
Peyton’s debut in the parade coincides with her theatrical debut.
After three auditions for separate productions, Peyton was thrilled earlier this fall to learn she’d landed the speaking and signing part of Lydia in the company’s comical rendition of Sleeping Beauty.
“Lydia is the fairy of the ‘brains,’” said Peyton with a wide grin, a set of glittery yellow and green wings attached to her blouse.
Peyton rode with Lacey Smith, one of two girls to play the leading role and the cast sang several songs before and during the parade.
Daisy and Simran
Also making her debut at the Hometown Holiday Parade was Daisy the Maltese terrier.
Daisy, who couldn't weigh more than five pounds, walked – and was escorted – in the parade with her human sister, Simran Rijhwani and other volunteers from the East Bay Chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Simran, a freshman, took a few minutes before the parade to talk with Patch about her volunteer work with the East Bay SPCA.
“I work about two hours a week and we get to clean the animals’ cages, fold their laundry, play with them and feed them,” she said.
“She wants to be a vet one day,” said Simran’s mother, Meena. “It’s great for her to be around the animals.”
Mr. Perazzo and his Marching (and Cheering) Patriots
Also on the newcomers list to the parade were 8th grade members of the band, directed by Paul Perazzo.
Most middle school bands don’t have opportunities to march in parades. But because of the parade, this group of approximately 30 participants was able to get a taste of what they’ll experience once they enter Amador Valley High School next year.
“We’re playing three holiday songs,” said Dana Fasman between rehearsing song transitions with her fellow band members.
The band members fell into straight lines right behind the Harvest Park Middle School Patriots Cheerleaders, who said they also had never before marched in the parade.
Erin and Kendra
Not to be forgotten, several dozen city of Pleasanton employees participate in the parade every year.
Among them this year were Erin Cloak and Kendra Hartsuyker, both staff members of the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center.
Fortunately, given the cool weather, they didn’t have to dress up as lifeguards, swim instructors or office staff.
Instead, Erin and Kendra donned reflective vests, held bright wands and handheld stop signs. Dressed as such, they directed parade participant traffic from the Amador Valley High School Parking lot through the Cedarwood business park lot.
“We keep the traffic flowing through in one direction and make sure no one tries to enter and park here,” said Erin.
While the glamour of walking down Main Street may have seemed elusive to Erin and Kendra, they were at least as cheerful and animated while working as many of the young parade participants were when queuing up to march.