It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Downtown Napa
By Craig Smith -
Life is beginning to look a lot like normal. With that in mind, picking a theme for this year’s Napa Christmas Parade was easy – ”It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.”
The holiday celebrations begin with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Veterans Park. On Wednesday, November 24 at 6 p.m., Mayor Scott Sedgley will lead the community in lighting the tree. Boy scouts will be on hand giving out free cookies, courtesy of Toni Chiapetta, owner of Sweetie Pies, who has been making and donating cookies for years. Hot chocolate will be provided by Downtown Joes, as they have since the tree lighting in Veterans Park began. Entertainment will come from local children’s groups, who will dance and sing before the Mayor leads the countdown to light the tree.
Napa’s Christmas Parade is Saturday, November 27 at 5 p.m. Three cash awards of $500 each will be given to the Kiwanian parade judges’ choices in three categories: Best Use of Lights, Best Theme-Oriented, and Best Use of Music. “A lot of Napa non-profits have benefited from these awards over the years,” said Allison Hallum, GM at Eiko’s, Napa Noodle and Eiko’s at Oxbow and the president of the Downtown Napa Association, the primary parade sponsor. Anyone can enter the parade, and it’s free. Whether you choose to build an elaborate float, simply march along with your group, or just watch, Napa’s Christmas parade is a hometown tradition that has grown over the years.
The downtown parade begins on Second Street at School, heads east on Second to Brown, then north to Third, and finally west back to School Street. Judging takes place on Third Street in front of the courthouse, across from the Second Street garage. All groups are recognized and introduced at the stage.
Old Saint Nick will set up shop in the lobby of Archer Hotel this year, as soon as he wraps up the parade, probably about 6:30 p.m. He’ll bring a staff of elves who will pass out candy canes, and the Archer will have plenty of hot chocolate on hand for everyone. All the little ones have to do is bring their wish list and tell Santa what they want. Santa will do his best to fill all those requests.
Grand Marshals this year are Marco and Berenice Castaneda, co-owners of Don Perico Mexican Restaurant in Dwight Murray Plaza. Castaneda began his restaurant career as a busboy in a Mexican restaurant in Bakersfield. He worked hard, paid attention to every aspect of the business, and opened Don Perico with his then-boss in 1994. A few years later, Castaneda bought his boss out, and has been sole owner since. Marco is a quiet, unassuming man, and was clearly humbled when the board of directors of the Downtown Napa Association asked him to be the parade Grand Marshal for the community, for which he feels an incredible sense of gratitude. “We love this community and appreciate all the loyal support we’ve had from the beginning.” Napans love the food at Don Perico, and have been dining with them at their Dwight Murray Plaza location since they moved there after the earthquake.
Napa Printing, Design Studio & Mail Center has also supported the parade for years. John Dunbar, who purchased the company in 2000, is deeply invested in Napa. “As a company, Napa Printing is honored to support the community. We have a vested interest in continuing to try and keep Napa a great place to live as well as a great place in which to do business.”
For the past nine years, the Kiwanis Club of Napa has been very involved with the parade; in fact, they practically own it. Their members handle the parade set-up, do all the judging for awards, and emcee the event. Without Kiwanis, there would be no parade.
And a special shout out goes to the staff and elected officials of the City of Napa. Most of what they do is largely unseen – planning to make sure the event is safe, road closures and overseeing closed intersections during the parade and clean up. Their contributions aren’t easy, are vital to the success of the parade and are appreciated.
Everything is free. Parade applications can be found at DoNapa.com or by calling 257-0322.