The Ocean Beach Town Council-sponsored event, the area’s only nighttime parade, kicks-off at 5:05 p.m.“OB time.”
The parade stretches from the 4800 block of Newport Avenue to the beach and around the corner on Abbott Street.
This year’s event theme, “100 Years of Wonderland,” honors the anniversary celebration of OB's amusement park, Wonderland.
The parade headlines a day-long schedule of events and activities geared toward the whole family that features a community Christmas tree, as well as a food and toy drive benefiting local families and seniors.
“We’ll have 100 entrees this year, the maximum number, as well as 100 volunteers, a major increase at the request of the city to have more hands on deck,” said Gretchen Kinney Newsom, OB Town Council president and parade chair about 2013’s festivities.
Claudia Jack, associate director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, who’s in charge of the home decorating contest, said the parade event sprouted and grew from humble beginnings.
“Thirty-four years ago it was started by five brothers, called the James Gang, who wanted to bring a Christmas tree to town,” Jack said. “Now there are so many people that attend the parade. It’s such a family friendly event that everyone looks forward to. No one ever does anything else on the first Saturday of December. That’s the day of the parade.”
The OB parade has evolved over time and today enjoys a huge stature within the community.
“It is now a full-on, well-organized, well-executed nighttime parade,” noted Kinney Newsom. “We just have a whole slew of people in the parade. There’s something for everyone whether it’s the vintage cars or the carolers or the live bands or the community groups or Chopper the biker dog riding in his little Harley Davidson motorcycle.”
Kinney Newsom said the OB Holiday parade is difficult to describe. You have to be there to truly appreciate it.
“It’s so unique,” she said. “The entries are very unique, very community oriented with an Ocean Beach flavor to them.”
Political VIPs in the 2013 parade will include Congressman Scott Peters, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilman and mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer and the Point Loma Democratic Club hosting mayoral candidate Councilman David Alvarez.
What’s best about the parade is that it’s homegrown, noted Jack.
“We have a lot of neighborhood groups, a lot of local groups, a lot of nonprofits,” she said. “There’s something for everybody.”
Jack talked about what she enjoys most about OB Holiday Parade day.
“It’s just the twinkle in each kid’s eyes as the lights go by and they’re yelling,” she said.
More than 10,000 people are expected to turnout Dec. 7 to watch the opening of the parade, which coincides with the lighting of the Ocean Beach community Christmas tree at the foot of Newport Avenue, with holiday activities all over the area until 9 p.m.
Guests will be treated to a wonderland of entertainment options, everything from music and food in local restaurants to a crafts fair with more than 20 artists participating at Veteran’s Plaza (Newport Avenue and Abbott Street) running from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
While the day offers plenty of opportunities for fun and shopping, it’s also a chance to help the less fortunate during the holidays. The Ocean Beach Town Council is again hosting its annual Food and Toy Drive, and participants are encouraged to donate canned food or an unwrapped toy with drop-off bins located throughout the area.
“On Dec. 16, 17 and 19 we’ll be doing the food and toy drive for the 70 families, 13 seniors and 15 residents of an Ocean Beach home for victims of domestic violence that have been adopted by the community,” said Jack. “We’ll be delivering the food and toys on Dec. 21. Everything we do, all the (parade) proceeds, go to the food and toy drive.”
This year, festivities are also to include a judged holiday home decorating contest with nine judges choosing the best three homes in three categories based on the best use of lighting and originality. Judges will turn in their “verdicts” as to which homes are best qualified on Monday, Dec. 16. Winners will receive a framed piece of art representing this year’s theme, Ocean Beach Wonderland 100 years.
The community tree for this year’s festivities was donated by a family on Coronado Street, Jack said.