Why Mack students flock to Oakland’s Christmas parade

Description of . Spectators watch the America's Children's Holiday Parade from the corner of 14th street and Broadway in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)copyright photo by Anba Chu/Bay Area News Group

by Jacob Miles

Blast that hip hop, let those 30-foot balloons of Christmas-y figures soar and bring in those tap dancing Christmas trees — the 14th annual America’s Children’s Holiday Parade marching down Broadway in Oakland on Dec. 7 had as many fans who were teens as were tots.

Call it nostalgia. That may be why Mack students flocked to see Curious George, Garfield, the Berenstain Bears, Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Tap Dancing Christmas Trees, and of course Santa Claus.

“I’m just so happy they do something in the city every year to keep the holiday spirit up,” said  Shanell Rix, a senior at McClymonds.

A dozen or so McClymonds students said that parades like this one keep their spirits up and they enjoy reminiscing about their favorite cartoon character(s) growing up as a kid.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Star Troopers and Darth Vader from Star Wars marching… it was very amusing,” said senior Justin Gilreath about a few of his childhood heroes.

No wonder the premiere children’s holiday parade appeals to teens. They were raised around it, said Rix. The parade, launched as a small event in 2000, now attracts over 100,000 spectators, has 20 local high school marching bands.

It all began with the idea to bring a parade back to downtown Oakland to celebrate the rebirth of the city and its renewed viability. The Chamber and Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland joined with  local businesses to launch it in 2000. Within a few years, the Oakland parade became a premier family event, dubbed “America’s Children’s Holiday Parade.”

“What fun to reminisce about your favorite characters,” said Gilreath.

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