La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival returns
Published - 12/01/19 - 07:05 AM | 1021 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Pacific Telephone float is shown in this historic photo of the La Jolla Christmas Parade. 
/ Photo courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society
The Pacific Telephone float is shown in this historic photo of the La Jolla Christmas Parade. / Photo courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society
The annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival is back in town on Sunday, Dec. 8, with a parade on Girard Avenue at 1:30 p.m. and festival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the La Jolla Recreation Center at 615 Prospect St.

“This year’s theme is ‘Christmas on the Moon’ that originated with an idea by parade chair, Ann Kerr Bache, who remembers vividly the landing on July 20, 1969,” said Gail Forbes, assistant of the parade’s marching units.

“Fifty years later we can actually contemplate realistically there may be a celebration on the moonscape. Certainly, our global astronauts will be dreaming of a white Christmas on the space station.” 

Once again, it’s time to bring your loved ones, friends or anyone else who loves a good parade and wants to enjoy some holiday cheer. See floats, marching bands, community groups, drill teams, vintage vehicles, horses and much more.

Forbes said the legendary event started as a parade of Rolls Royce automobiles making their way from the beach in La Jolla Shores into town.

“June Barrymore and her gang threw candy out the windows and that started it all-around 1947, I think. But the tradition of celebrating the holiday goes back to the dark days of World War I when the town gathered at the brand-new recreation center in 1915 to turn on tree lights and celebrate being together. I’m not sure who organized that shindig but Ellen Browning Scripps was still alive and it was her donation that built La Jolla Recreation Center,” Forbes recalled.

The parade has come to mean different things for different people and for Forbes it’s “like old home week and it’s a place where you can see most of the locals.”

But, regardless of how old you are, this parade and festival is for everyone from young to old, Forbes said.

“It’s great for teenagers as it’s a perfect opportunity to see and be seen. Also, astronauts, school children,  grandmas, grandpas, mom and pop, community leaders … anyone who still believes in the magic and goodness of the Christmas holiday.”

Forbes herself attends every year and said she doesn’t let the weather dampen her or her family’s spirits.

“The parade is a rain or shine occasion,” she said. “My favorite part is the horses but the beauty queens are popular with the crowd. Most people say they like the marching bands and the mariachis are a highlight.”

Of course, there is tons of people-watching, as well as lots of four-legged friends on hand at the exciting event every year.

“There are always dogs, lots of dogs, fancy cars, funny floats, equestrians, cowboys and bandits, mariachi drill teams, dancers and Santa,” she said.  “Santa rides in the Stanley Steamer automobile belonging to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club at the very end of the parade. Sometimes, we get the Wells Fargo wagon or the Budweiser Clydesdales but they follow a strict schedule and cannot always participate in La Jolla.” 

While the parade comes and goes quickly, it does take a lot of planning and almost immediately after the event the planning starts up again for the next year, Forbes said.

“Work starts again as soon as the parade stops. It is a year-long process that increasingly demands additional funding to ensure public safety,” Forbes said.

If you plan to go, all the Holiday Festival activities take place on the grounds of the La Jolla Rec Center, where the parade will end at 3 p.m. Forbes notes its an easy walk from the parade’s starting location, which means it could be easier to keep your car parked in one spot for the day.

Visit for more information.

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