Bah humbug! COVID-19 cancels 71st annual Optimist Club Christmas Parade

October 17, 2020
Procession draws thousands to Santa Paula

By Peggy Kelly

Santa Paula Times

Old St. Nick won’t be waving from an antique fire engine to thousands of excited kids this year after the Optimist Club announced the annual Christmas Parade, one of Ventura County’s most famed events, is being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year the iconic Christmas Parade draws thousands of spectators to the Downtown where dozens and dozens of entries of all types form a jolly procession. The annual Christmas Parade, the oldest such continuous procession in Ventura County and always held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, was seen as the traditional kickoff to Santa Paula’s holiday season.

“After serious consideration,” said Parade Coordinator Ron Merson, “the Optimist Club of Santa Paula has decided to cancel the 71st annual Santa Paula Christmas Parade, which would have been held Saturday, November 28th on Main Street in Santa Paula.”

Merson noted that the annual parade “Has always been for the entire community and everyone in the community was invited to participate in the parade, either by watching or taking part in the procession.”

From marching bands, veterans groups, color guards, low riders and scouts to equestrians, church groups, Model T clubs, sports teams, police, businesses, fire engines, schools and nonprofits,  “Any type of entry which celebrated the holiday season was welcome,” and said Merson, “everyone was asked to join in the fun.”

There was always a Parade Grand Marshal and judges would pick the best in each category for the Gazebo awards ceremony where the Santa Paula High School Marching Band would perform — usually after their own win.

Canceling the procession was a hard decision: “We are very disappointed at not holding the parade this year, it really is a Santa Paula tradition that the Optimists’ enjoyed as much as the crowd. It’s a real old-fashioned, fun event... ”

But all is not lost: there are still call outs from Santa, lots of fun and great parade memories: “If you would like to view past Christmas Parades please visit and,” said Merson, “look for ‘Santa Paula Christmas Parades from the Past.’ The Optimist Club is looking forward to a Christmas Parade in 2021. Meanwhile, enjoy your holiday season, stay safe and take care of yourselves and each other.”

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