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Craig Smith

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.

J.L. Sousa/Register

Join your family and friends Wed., Nov. 23, 6 p.m. at Veterans Park for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Cookies will be provided by Sweetie Pies, whose baked goods are endorsed by Santa himself (Sweetie Pies’ owner Toni Chiappetta is, after all, one of Santa’s top elves.)

Hot chocolate will be provided by Downtown Joe’s. Boy Scout troop 2 will be on-hand to serve it all up, free of charge.

Entertainment this year includes dancing from Napa Valley Elite All Stars, a company formed four years ago by Alexis Oppedahl and Janet Ceja.

The dancers are good – they’ve won three national championships in that time.

This is their last Christmas performance – Raevyn Oppedahl and Viviana Ceja, two members of the dance company, are off to high school next year. Their moms are going to move on as well, cheering their daughters on in their new adventures.

Napa Mayor Jill Techel will be joined by a host of dignitaries, including Congressman Mike Thompson, and lead all children in a countdown to light the tree. It’s all free and open to the public.

And the Christmas parade!

Napa’s Christmas parade is a nighttime event, and participants string lights on floats, people, even animals, to light the night.

Sat., Nov. 26, the parade begins at 5 p.m., following a new route. Beginning on Second at School, the parade travels down Second to Brown Street, right on Brown, then right on Third and back to School.

This year’s parade theme is “Bright Lights, Christmas Delights.”

Awards of $500 each will be given to the winners in three categories – Best Use of Lights, Best Theme-Oriented, and Best Use of Music.

Fair and impartial judging is handled by members of the Kiwanis Club of Napa, led by Jim Roberts and fellow Kiwanians Sandy Leveque and Lynn Carriker. Danis Kreimeier and Patty Garaventa handle emcee duties.

Congregants from The Father’s House will bring up the rear, cleaning the streets and returning them to pristine condition.

The Father’s House actually calls the parade organizers and volunteers every year. Forty of them will be at work in their “We Love Napa” T-shirts. Say hello, and thank them, please.

Grand Marshal duties are being shared by the team from Napa Printing, Design Studio & Mail Center.

“This is really an honor to everybody on our staff,” said Napa Printing owner John Dunbar.

“Some members of our team have been with us over 20 years. Many were born and raised in Napa, and have been coming to the parade for decades. We are all honored to be named Grand Marshal.”

Santa makes his entrance in a sled led by flying reindeer – this is one you don’t want to miss.

Following the parade, Santa will be in the Big Chair in the breezeway at the Napa Riverfront Building on Main Street.

It’s all free. Details at

Happy Thanksgiving. See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Reach him at 257-0322 or