Pleasanton Weekly

News - December 2, 2011

Main Street kicks off holiday season with parade, tree-lighting tomorrow

Special guest Santa Claus will help mayor flick switch to light up the night

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The Pleasanton parade and tree-lighting festivities tomorrow don't just celebrate the holidays, said event chairman Brian Dutchover. Businesses and other groups participate in the Hometown Holiday Celebration to show their community spirit, pride and appreciation for Pleasanton.

"Anybody from the community can participate," Dutchover said, "but the entry has to be of a holiday theme."

Both Amador Valley and Foothill high school marching bands take part, and this year it's Amador's turn to lead the parade. Neighborhoods and families participate, many with imaginative floats, along with horse entries, as well as hundreds of Cub Scouts and Brownies, local car clubs and dog clubs.

Pleasanton's popular Balloon Platoon will be returning, and the Bay Area Ghostbusters are participating for the first time. Santa Claus brings up the rear as the parade's grand finale.

Community groups, such as the high school booster clubs, will offer food and beverages along the parade route, and some businesses will do giveaways.

The city of Pleasanton had been running the tree-lighting for about 30 years when, in 1997, it took over the parade, which had been presented by the Pleasanton Downtown Association. The two events combine each December as the Hometown Holiday Celebration.

"In 1997, we had 400 parade participants -- 30 entries equating to 400 people in the parade -- and maybe 3,000 spectators," Dutchover said. "This year we will have 3,000 people in the parade and 20,000-30,000 people spectating."

The event committee of 12 volunteers and 12 city staff members begins meeting in June. About 100 volunteers are needed the day of the event, Dutchover noted; to find out more, visit www.hometownholiday.com.

The parade starts at 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Rose Hotel and proceeds down Main Street to the Veterans Memorial Building. Announcers will be at the US Bank, at the Museum on Main under the Pleasanton Arch, and in front of the Valley Community Bank.

"There are plenty of places for people to watch and listen," Dutchover said. "The parade takes approximately an hour and a half or so. Immediately afterward we have the tree-lighting ceremony."

Pleasanton musician and vocalist Don Lewis will perform, as will the Pleasanton Cooltones, a brass jazz ensemble, and there will be a community sing-along.

"It will be emceed by Mayor Jennifer Hosterman with all the council in attendance," Dutchover said. "There will be a special guest appearance by Santa Claus, who will assist the mayor in lighting the tree."

Together they will pull down a huge lever and the evergreen in front of the museum will light up the December night. Then it will officially be the Christmas season in Pleasanton.

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