Witness the marvel of the holidays as the 58th Annual Downtown Holiday Parade meanders down State Street to entertain and amaze children, families and the true believers.
On December 3rd at 6:30pm, the much anticipated Holiday Parade will once again amuse more than 50,000 spectators as giant helium balloons float down State Street amidst magnificent marching bands, fabulous floats and spectacular performance groups in elaborate, colorful costumes to charm the audience as they await and cheer on the Grand Marshal, the Holiday Prince & Fairy and of course, the most anticipated appearance of the season…the arrival of Santa Claus.
Once upon a time, the Downtown Holiday Parade was called the Children’s Holiday Parade when a young “Christmas Fairy” appeared with her magic wand riding with Santa Claus in a 35-foot float, magically lighting a row of Christmas trees that lined the center of State Street. The trees, collectively referred to as Christmas Tree Lane, were 40-foot Douglas Firs’ placed in the center divide of what was then a four-lane street.
In 1997, the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, and parade sponsor, began paying homage to this tradition by placing one Christmas tree on State Street just north of the Victoria Street intersection. Only one large community Christmas tree could be placed on State Street, as it was narrowed to two lanes and space for on-street parking was removed in the 1960’s.
The job of the original Christmas Fairy is now performed by the “Holiday Prince and Fairy” who magically light the large Christmas tree to mark the official start of the Holiday Season and the Downtown Holiday Parade. Each year one boy and girl are chosen to be the Holiday Prince and Fairy based on their creativity and imagination expressed in an art contest.
In keeping with traditions of the past, Santa still reigns over the entire celebration. He can be seen riding at the end of the parade in an authentic hand-built sleigh for an unforgettable grand finale! The public can also join Santa prior to the parade, as he greets families in Paseo Nuevo center court during the opening celebration of the Santa Barbara Unity Shoppe Wish Tree from 4:00-5:30 pm.
The parade is Free and begins at 6:30pm on State at Sola Street and concludes at Cota Street. For information, contact the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization at (805) 962-2098 ext. 24.
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The Downtown Organization is a membership-driven, non-profit organization whose goal is to maintain and enhance the business and cultural activity in the downtown area. Helping keep downtown Santa Barbara clean, attractive, safe and vibrant goes towards supporting this goal. Presently, there are over 1,400 members who benefit from the Downtown Organization’s commitment to excellence and its ongoing efforts on their behalf. Some of the programs, activities and events sponsored by the Downtown Organization include the Downtown Holiday Parade, the Downtown Art and Wine Tour, the decorative State Street Flag Program, 1st Thursday, epicure.sb: a month to savor santa barbara and Safe Trick-or-Treat.