SANTA CLARA (KPIX) – The city of Santa Clara rekindled a 50-year-old tradition on Saturday by bringing back its “Parade of Champions,” a community event that celebrates the sheer fun of having a community event.
The Santa Clara Champions Parade began as a welcoming house for the troops in 1945. It was so much fun that it continued as a tradition for 50 years, but it ended in 1995 and Ana Vargas- Smith, president of the parade’s foundation, doesn’t know why.
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“I had left Santa Clara and when I came back I said ‘where did the parade go?'” Said Vargas-Smith. “So we had a few people, my community – about six of us – and we brought it back! “
Tony Cardoso, who now lives in Tracy, remembers coming to the parade as a young child with his grandmother.
“It’s something that was in my head when I was a kid, you know?” he said. “We’ve been coming every year for many years, you know? “
In fact, the parade returned in 2019, but was dismissed last year due to the pandemic. Saturday was back in full force – 85 entries, over 2,000 participants in total. There were marching bands, classic cars, bagpipes, school children and people in costumes. After a year of confinement, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
“We have to see everyone’s laughter, everyone’s face,” said Anna Parada, greeting the walkers from the sidewalk. “After all these masks, we need to see our smiles.”
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Unlike other parades that celebrate specific holidays or groups of people, the Champions Parade is a bit hard to define. The Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps were world champions in 2018, but most of Saturday’s entries were just from people wanting to strut the middle of the street.
“We highlight everything, you know? It’s an eclectic mix, but it’s just the fun, ”said Jodi Muirhead, parade board member.
This year’s parade was meant to honor frontline healthcare workers, but they were hard to find among the marchers. The Grand Marshal was Krazy George, whose wacky energy is always a bullet in the arm for anyone who might be feeling down.
“It connects everyone around this whole community! He said, beating his drum. ” We went out. We got past the virus – we’re getting over it – and it was fun! This parade is great! Santa Clara is awesome! ”
Maybe he’s right. The real guest of honor was the community itself. After a year of cancellation and isolation, masks and warrants, just about anyone who has survived can consider themselves a bit of a champion.
“It’s just one of those things you do,” said Mary Cardoso, a parade regular. “And everyone just says, ‘Oh, we’ve got to go to the Champions Parade! It’s a parade of champions, that’s where all the champions come from! ‘ “
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The parade lasted nearly two hours, but the event continued into the early evening with a farmers market, community kiosks, meals and salsa dancing in the town square.