OB Holiday Parade to feature a wedding and family of grand marshalls
by CYNTHIA ROBERTSON
Published - 12/01/16 - 05:19 PM | 3126 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Catch a wave at the OB Holiday Parade on Dec. 3. / Photo by Kevin Haggerty
Catch a wave at the OB Holiday Parade on Dec. 3. / Photo by Kevin Haggerty
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The OB Christmas tree is in place, sparkling and decorated, making spirits bright. Now is the time for the 37th annual Ocean Beach Holiday Parade, the only all-volunteer-run parade in San Diego. The parade’s theme this year is “Year of the Pier with Holiday Cheer.”

And there will be plenty of cheer, with all kinds of different features for this year’s parade.

“For the first time, the parade will have a family as the grand marshall,” said Nate Bazydlo, co-chair of the parade.

“We are recognizing not only Steve, Scott and Kyle as the Yeng brothers behind local favorites OB Noodle House, Bar 1502 and The Holding Company, but also their parents, who without their resilience and their fierce dedication to family values, community contribution and giving back, we would not have this trio of brothers who constantly give to the community of Ocean Beach,” Bazydlo said.

But the biggest surprise of this year’s parade is an actual wedding to take place. “Our very own head of the OB Planning Board, John Ambert, his bride and wedding party are entrants in the parade and will be getting married during their parade procession,” Bazydlo said.

“My fiancé and I are deciding to celebrate our marriage by participating in the parade,” said Ambert.

The couple had met at the parade in 2011 and then got engaged at the parade last year.

“Now we are looking forward to walking and riding in a float for this year. Our entry will include a flatbed float with a group of marching wedding celebrators,” Ambert said.

The Amberts and Yengs will be joined by 100 other parade entrants and floats, to include Mayor Kevin Faulconer, groups of neighbors such as the OB Pause and the OB Mermaids. Other local community groups to march in the parade include Point Loma High School Marching Band and local schools’ surf clubs. Local businesses will also be participating.

“The San Diego Lifeguards will be carrying Santa (the only one in the parade) as he loves to make a special visit to OB for the parade each year,” Bazydlo said. 

“We do extensive outreach to make known the parade to the general public and elected officials.”

One of the charms of this parade is that spectators can get a good view of it anywhere along Newport Avenue from Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to Veteran’s Plaza and around the corner down from Abbott Street to Santa Monica Avenue.

To enjoy the parade as much as possible, come early and enjoy the day in OB, Bazydlo suggests.

“This is one of the most iconic events in all of San Diego with tens of thousands of people coming into OB from all over the county and beyond to revel in the parade and holiday cheer. The influx of patrons to local businesses is immense,” said Bazydlo.

At 2 p.m. Newport Avenue is cleared of all parked cars, making it a good time to shop. “It is so rare to have a main street empty of traffic,” he said.  

The Ocean Beach Town Council, its volunteer board and community volunteers help make the parade possible.

“It truly takes an army of volunteers to put on this awesome event,” said Bazydlo.

Bazydlo recommended for parade spectators coming after 3 p.m. to park at least five blocks away from the parade route, staying to the north of Newport Avenue and walking to the parade route. There will be many road closures that may cause bottle-neck traffic in the area.

How lovely indeed are the branches of the Ocean Beach Christmas tree. So special it is that its arrival to Ocean Beach merits a police escort.

On Nov. 29, Claudia Jack, chair of the OB Tree Project, went in the early morning with a crew of 15 people from a landscape company to a private property in Ocean Beach where the 45-foot tree was located.

At 11 a.m. the tree was finally loaded onto a huge truck. San Diego police escorted the truck carrying the tree into the community Ocean Beach to the foot of Newport Avenue.

A sleeve, or manhole in the sand, had been uncovered and cleaned out for the tree. Once the tree was settled and placed into the sleeve, it was time to put the electrical wiring in place and add the lights, topping it with a star.

That first day on Newport Avenue, the tree was left alone. First thing the next day, the beach ball decorations were all blown up and hung on the tree.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the children from local schools will make a visit to see Santa from 9 a.m. to noon and bring hand-made ornaments to hang on the tree.

The tree’s big day is Saturday, Dec. 3 when Santa comes around from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for people to visit with him and take pictures. The tree’s shining moment comes at 5:05 p.m. that same day when the parade starts.

“Where else can you have a picture taken with a Christmas tree in the sand, with a pier and waves in the back ground? We put it up early enough so take pictures to send to all your friends back east,” Jack said.

The OB Christmas tree on the beach draws visitors, who come to Ocean Beach to gaze at the tree and then go shopping and dining in the town.

“I don't believe there is another beach town that puts a Christmas tree on the beach,” said Jack, who has volunteered for 23 years on the OB Holiday Committee and Ocean Beach Town Council.

Nate Bazydlo, vice president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, explained that the tree came from a resident who was already going to have the tree removed from the property.

“Instead of putting it straight into the chipper, the tree has a wonderful farewell as the iconic OB Christmas tree. Also, local artists and residents re-purpose wood from the tree when it is brought down on the beach in January,” Bazydlo said. 

The OB Christmas tree has been donated at least the past 12 years by homeowners, and once from the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park. Usually the homeowner has to remove the tree because it has caused damage to the house and surrounding property.

“It is very expensive to remove a tree of this size, we remove the tree at no cost to the homeowner. We have removed trees from many areas of San Diego,” Jack said.

The OB Christmas tree is one of the town’s iconic images. Many stories and memories surround it. Jack recalls a couple of funny incidents regarding the transport of the tree. She said that years ago, the tree was being hauled to Ocean Beach and fell off the truck.

“So a few us went to Mount Laguna and we picked out a tree and got it cut and when it landed it split in two, so we had to select another tree.

“Another time a tree was being cut in a neighborhood near Cowles Mountain, and on the way to Ocean Beach, some of the branches scraped a bridge, Jack said.

The best story-telling about the tree, of course, is the time spent around it, gazing at it and making memories with family and friends.

“My favorite part of all the tree and parade activities is seeing the kids’ faces when they get to talk to Santa,” Jack said.

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