Napans of all ages lined downtown streets Saturday to watch the annual Christmas parade light up the night.
People cheered as the parade, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, ambled down First Street before turning on Main and returning on Second Street, back toward School Street. The Napa Downtown Association organized the juried parade with the sponsorship of the Kiwanis of Napa.
The parade started with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Posse and ended 90 minutes later with Santa Claus waving to the crowds. The five dozen entries introduced by emcees Mike Mautner and Lori Wear included grand marshal Brenda Roberts, owner of Baker Street Downtown, as well dozens of old cars, bikes, and large and smaller floats decked with lights to illustrate this year’s theme, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Vintage High School’s band marched while others danced, twirled batons or walked. Four-legged participants also included a few dogs, pygmy goats and bigger goats.
“I love being out here with the people,” said Donna Russell, who came with husband Wayne to watch a nephew in the parade.
Stuart Gilcrest of Vallejo came at the suggestion of one of the parade’s emcees. “I’m very impressed with the community up here,” said Gilcrest as children from Bel Aire Park Magnet School walked by carrying luminaries decorated with blue peace doves.
Nathan Johansen and Daniel Pilkington, two missionaries from Utah with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came downtown to meet people and answer questions.
“It’s cool. It’s really cool,” said Johansen, of Salt Lake City, as he and Pilkington, of Bountiful, watched the parade, Bibles in hand.
The Pizza Guys staff members made pizzas in their company truck, handing them out to cheering people along the way while others in the parade gave out cookies and loads of candy.
On Main Street, 5-month-old Sophie quietly watched the parade in the arms of her mother, Angelica Bell of Napa. “She enjoys seeing the kids running for the candy,” Bell said.
Candy was also a draw for Giulia Guerrera, 8, of Napa, who watched the parade with her brother Giorgio, 7, and a cousin, Stella Della Sala of Berkeley. Giulia said she also liked the “colored trucks,” referring to the lights on the floats.
Yesenia Gallegos, 22, came with her boyfriend, her mom, and younger siblings Joey, 12, and Danielle, 2.
Gallegos said she enjoyed the event. “It’s very festive,” she said. “It brings people together.”
The floats and entries competed for cash prizes. Julie Morales, events manager for the Napa Downtown Association, said North Napa 4-H won first place for Best Use of Lights, while Girl Scouts of Northern California — Napa Unit won first place for Best Theme Entry. Each winner receives $500, Morales said.