Sun, floats, an enthusiastic crowd, marching bands, dance groups, drill teams and the appearance of Old. St. Nick in a horse-drawn carriage made for a perfect annual Christmas Day Parade in the City of Perris.
More than 70 church, school, civic, business and non-profit groups took part in the “27th annual Christmas Parade. The theme of the 2015 parade was “A Storybook Christmas.”
Mayor Daryl Busch, members of the Perris City Council, Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley and State Assemblyman Jose Medina were among the dignitaries.
“We have a great day for a parade and it’s going to be a great one,” Busch said. “We expect a huge turnout for a wonderful occasion. What makes this parade so special is that we have the entire community participating—businesses, churches, non-profits and our City staff all come together to make this a great day.”
Busch said he drove the parade route along D Street prior to the festivities and noted large numbers of residents taking their place to get a good view of the spectacle. In some places, people were stacked four and five-deep to watch the parade.
Mayor Pro-Tem Tonya Burke attended with her husband and daughter. She handed out candy as treats to the onlookers.
“This is terrific,” she said. “It’s so nice to see the wonderful looks in peoples’ faces. I so look forward to this time of the year. A lot of cities are unable to host Christmas parades because they’ve had to cut back on community events. This parade speaks to our commitment to this community.”
City Councilman David Starr Rabb took to roller skates to dispense treats to parade spectators. Rabb said he remembers attending his first holiday parade in Perris when he was little more than a toddler.
“I’ve always looked forward to this event,” he said. “It brings out the Christmas spirit and it shows the diversity of our community to celebrate the holiday together.”
City Councilwoman Rita Rogers said the holiday season is about coming together to share the joy of giving.
“It’s great to see our community to celebrate the greatest season we have, which is Christmas,” Rogers said.
City Councilman Mark Yarbrough said of the Christmas parade: “It doesn’t get any better than this and nobody does it better than Perris. Our staff and our community come together to make this a spectacular event. We do it with heart.”
Supervisor Ashley, a lifelong Perris Valley resident, called the Perris holiday parade “one of the finest small-city celebrations in the entire Inland Empire.”
“This community’s participation in the holiday parade has been terrific for years and years,” he said. “This is a quality of life event and Perris has always placed top priority on these kind of activities. It brings everyone together to celebrate the most important holiday of the year!”
Rep. Medina, D-Riverside, said he enjoys “the holiday spirit and the spirit of the community” the parade brings out.
“It’s a good time to be with the folks of Perris,” he said. “It brings out a lot of people. It’s a beautiful parade and a beautiful day.”
The audience heard a variety of carols performed by several marching unit. Dance-groups performed as well. Many dignitaries rode in classic cars as did members of a local car club. Perris Police Chief Mie Judge rode atop an old-fashion stagecoach. The carriage carrying Santa Claus brought the parade, but not the festivities, to an end. Following the parade, youngsters were invited to the Bob Glass Gym to tell their Christmas wish list to Santa. Awards were handed out to the top parade entrants. Councilmen Rabb and Yarbrough presented the awards to parade winners.
About 50 Girl Scouts from several troops in Perris marched in the parade, each wearing costumes that matched their parade theme: “The Grinch.” The Scouts ranged in age from kindergarten through high school. Group leader Patricia Campos said the girls and young women Scouts look forward to taking part in the annual holiday parade.
“They love it,” Campos said. “They get to interact with the community and be part of the Christmas cheer.”
Girl Scout Violet Carroll, 9, who attends Park Avenue Elementary School, said she enjoys bringing smiles to the faces of the crowd as she and her fellow Scouts walk the parade route.
“Seeing people line up along the street to watch us makes me feel very joyful,” she said.
Alicia Thompson, who brought a contingent of cheerleaders from the Junior All-American Perris Panther Football League, echoed similar sentiments. The cheerleaders, ages 4 to 14, practice their routines, which helps them maintain personal discipline and teamwork. The squad relishes the opportunity to strut its stuff—and for that, the holiday parade is perfect.
“Perris is a great community and this is a great event,” Thompson said. “We’re pleased to be part of this wonderful activity.”