Santa Claus is coming to town.
Saturday evening, Santa will be one of the 50 to 60 entries in the 50th Annual Holiday Parade, which begins at 5 p.m. Afterward, he will be in the rotunda at The Shops at Napa Center, assuming Napa’s children have been nice this year, said Craig Smith, executive director of the Napa Downtown Association, which hosts the parade.
Smith said the parade is popular every year, as people fill sidewalks to get a view of the festive floats, bands and other entries.
“At 4 p.m. it’ll be dead downtown, then by 4:30 people start showing up and at 5 the streets will be packed,” Smith said. “Entrants are encouraged to pass out candy. We pass out free glow sticks to everybody.”
The parade is expected to last about one hour, beginning outside the Andaz hotel on First and Franklin streets, heading east to Main Street, then up Second Street to City Hall. The judge’s booth will be at Dwight Murray Plaza.
This year’s theme is, “Do you hear what I hear?” and parade participants are encouraged to play to the theme, adding lights and music to their floats and passing out wrapped candy or treats to children along the route.
Smith said he expects to receive more entry applications before the parade begins and encouraged anyone interested in participating to contact the Napa Downtown Association as soon as possible.
This year, Ricky Knight, brother of the late Bobby Knight, will ride his brother’s tricycle in his memory. Bobby Knight, a developmentally disabled Napa resident who died earlier this year, was a regular participant in the Christmas parade.
“Bobby was always in the parade, twice,” Smith said. “There was one year when he had two costumes and didn’t know which to wear, so we said, ‘Wear them both.’”
Knight would ride through the route in one costume at the beginning of parade, and then again at the end of the parade in another outfit.
Brenda Roberts, owner of Baker Street Downtown and president of the Napa Downtown Association, will serve as grand marshal, something Smith said is well deserved.
“She’s being honored because she’s had a Napa business for 26 years,” Smith said. Also, Roberts has been on the Christmas committee for years and the decision to have her be the marshal was unanimous, he said.
Roberts plans to close her store after the new year, citing rising rent as the reason.
After the parade, Santa will be in the rotunda for photo opportunities and to speak with children.
Napa on Ice is scheduled to be open Saturday so long as it is not raining.
“It’s a really cool opportunity,” Smith said of the ice rink on the corner of Second and Coombs streets. “You can ice skate before, after or during if you like. I think it’s kind of magical.”
Rain or shine, the parade will go on.