EL CENTRO — For the 74th Annual Los Vigilantes Christmas Parade organizers had flirted with doing something different, yet finally stayed with what always worked to the typical enthusiastic response of those who lined streets to view the spectacle.
past ramrod of the Los Vigilantes, the nonprofit civic organization that stages
the parade along with the city of El Centro, said a proposal for a night march
content with tradition were representatives from Pioneers Memorial Healthcare
District, winner of the sweepstakes category for floats.
year there’s more music, louder music, more big-rig trucks, which is an
innovation, and it’s feeding a growing community,” said Frank Salazar, Pioneers
public affairs officer.
kept to the theme of the parade, March of the Toy Soldiers, with its float, the
Pioneers Health Express Train featuring mascot Scrubs the Red Panda.
from a health perspective, Salazar cautioned to not let the holidays overwhelm.
all want to have a good time but it can be stressful,” he said. “So,
let’s all stay healthy. If you are in the mood for three tamales, try eating
It’s All About
Estrada, city of El Centro recreation and sports coordinator, noted 14
volunteers in her department spent two weeks to complete the Toy Soldiers
think Christmas caters to children’s happiness and that’s what recreation is
all about,” she said. “I hope everybody has a very Merry Christmas. What’s
special about today, this weather (9:30 a.m.) is beautiful … with no
the parade was the Southwest High School Eagles marching band and spearheading
the band were drum majors Kailah Alvarez and Alex Lopez.
my first year and it’s a nice experience. All the bands get to do this every
year to represent their school and we get to play our favorite song, ‘Brooklyn’
by the Young Blood Brass Band,” said Alex.
Kailah, “This is my last year but I’ve been playing clarinet since seventh
grade. We really like it when everybody comes out for Christmas and we get to
parade with all the beautiful decorations.”
Rogers, past president of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau,
noted the parade coincides with the Christmas shopping season.
chamber thanks everybody who is here and we really appreciate the community for
shopping locally,” she said.
Spirit of Cooperation
Molina, a member of the Southwest High School Key Club, kept a close eye on the
proceedings at the parade route starting line.
glad we can be a part of the community (during the parade) and show our
Southwest spirit,” she said. “The Key Club carries our banners and
sponsor ads. We’re here to help any group who needs us.”
127 entries in the parade, noted Minor. Winning float entries included: public service
category, Children’s Foundation of the Imperial Valley; business category, El Centro
Regional Medical Center; religious category, St. Mary’s Catholic School; and youth
category, It’s a Small World Child Care. Grand Marshal was Cheryl Alford-Eyer,
while Honorary Grand Marshal was Brian McAbee.
float requires significant dedication, said Adolphe Edward, ECRMC chief
executive officer, noting the hospital had 20 people working 10 hours a week to
complete a magnificent Toy Soldiers piece that evoked the spirit of Christmas.
guys deserve all the recognition, they’re amazing,” Edward said.
“This is all about children and families. It’s the embodiment of what
Imperial Valley stands for–awesome.”
efforts were not lost on Joe Hernandez, a retired U.S. Department of Homeland
Security employee, who was sitting in a camp chair along with his children,
Scarlet and Geanna, along the parade route.
spoke for many viewers when he said, “It’s nice to be out here and it’s
always good to see the community to get together. We’re just waiting for Santa
to show up.”