From the Santa Barbara NewsPress:
Classic cars a highlight of Milpas Holiday Parade
By NIKKI GREY, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
A Chevrolet Monte Carlo was one of the many souped-up classic cars that took part in the Milpas Holiday Parade on Saturday.
MICHAEL MORIATIS/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
Santa Barbara Dance Institute dancers perform during Saturday's Milpas Holiday Parade
The parade closed with a Santa Claus sighting.
December 11, 2011 6:51 AM
It's not at every parade you see low-rider classic cars with hydraulics bump up and down the street.
That was one of the many things attendees said made Saturday's 58th Milpas Holiday Parade special in its return after a two-year absence.
Hosted by the Milpas Community Association, the parade began on Milpas and ran from De La Guerra through Mason streets. The "Shining Youth Stars!" themed parade featured 51 entrants, which mainly consisted of children's groups, including school bands, dance teams, and cheerleaders.
But the highlight was car club members with their bouncing low-riders decorated with Christmas tinsel cruising the street.
And, of course, Santa Claus made an appearance.
Good weather during the parade, which began at 11 a.m. and lasted about an hour, was a plus, said Alan Bleecker, president of the Milpas Community Association. In 2009, the parade had been canceled last minute because of rain, Mr. Bleecker said, and last year, not enough people volunteered to help organize the event.
It was good to have the parade back this year, he said.
"What's special about it is that it continues to create community," Mr. Bleecker said. "Our organization's goal is to create a better place to live, work, and visit. Anything we can do to improve the community morale and support of this area is just thrilling."
Local children and families seemed to be the main spectators of the parade, many of whom said they came because they felt more ownership of this parade than "State Street's" parade because it attracts so many tourists.
"I just grew up in this neighborhood," said Adriana Elkington. "We came to support the community."
Her husband, Michael Elkington, agreed.
"Everybody knows somebody in it," he said. "It just makes it so friendly."
Much smaller than the Downtown Holiday Parade on State Street, event organizers estimated there were about 20,000 people in attendance on Saturday, but for some attendees the parade's size was part of it's charm.
"This feels more local," Mr. Elkington said.
Steve Corral, 40, who said he's lived in the Milpas neighborhood his whole life, was happy to bring his son, Mateo, 3, to the parade for the first time this year. His 8-year-old daughter, Sophia, had been to the parade before, but said she was excited to come back. She whooped and hollered when the low-rider cars drove by, but insisted she came to see the cheerleaders.
"She thought it was a car show," Mr. Corral said.
"I like it when they tip over," Sophia said of the hydraulics.
Mr. Corral said the parade was special because of it's history within the Milpas community.
"I like that it's on this side of town," he said. "It's been going down forever.
"The cars I like, too."
Local elected officials were part of the parade, including Mayor Helene Schneider, who cruised down the street with Milpas Motors in a red 1966 Mustang and City Councilwoman-elect Cathy Murillo, who marched with the kids from the Westside Boys and Girls Club.
"We're from the Westside here on the Eastside," Ms. Murillo said. "That's what our goal is, to build community."
District Attorney Joyce Dudley, who was one of the parade announcers, said community building in all parts of town goes hand- in-hand with crime prevention.
"This is where all people can come together and build bridges," she said. "It's my goal to keep our community safe, and this is a great way to do that."
The parade finished with Santa waving to spectators from a fire truck, but the festivities didn't end there.
A new addition for this year included a classic car show hosted by one of the car club parade entrants, Nite Life.
The show, which began after the parade at noon, featured classic cars, low-riders, and antique paddy wagons, according to Danny Trejo, Nite Life president. With about 100 entrants, the car show benefitted children from the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara. The entry fee was $10 and one unwrapped Christmas present to be given to a child, Mr. Trejo said.
One of the great things about having the car show as an addition to the parade, he said, was that people in the community came and brought presents, too.
"We hope to make kids smile that day," Mr. Trejo said. "It makes us smile that day."