Looking back on the Annual Seal Beach Christmas Parade

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For their “Movie of the Season” parade entry, Greg and Kathy Fellers chose “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!” He’s a “mean one,” that Mr. Grinch, but they appreciate the moral finale’ when the Whos down in Whoville help him realize that, “Christmas came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!” Here, the Grinch is portrayed by 2019 Grand Marshal Greg Fellers and Kathy Fellers is our local Cindy Lou Who. Photo by Brian Goetz

Back in 1979, local businessman Tom Rose thought up the idea of having a local, authentic midwestern style Christmas Parade to bring people to Main Street to shop. He determined along with a few others, that the best day to do it would be the first Friday in December, to catch all the holiday shoppers – not too close to Thanksgiving, but right there in the peak shopping season.

The first parade was loosely organized with mostly civic groups, businesses, and school children as participants. It was a pretty casual affair without a lot of permitting or lots of paperwork. Twenty-three entries marched up and down Main Street a couple of times, starting and ending at the pier. In the early years, the McGaugh School Marching Band was the only musical entertainment. Just think of that for a moment – maybe 200 participants, a few small groups and indeed no floats, just marched up and down the same three blocks to celebrate the “Season of Giving.”

Grand Marshals from all walks of life have led the parade ever since. Citizens who are well-known contributors to the town are honored to be the Grand Marshal of the Christmas Parade. They come from all walks of life – business, ministry, non-profit work, government service, large corporations, and all local in that they live, work, or serve in Seal Beach. Recently we had Greg & Gina Phillips, Laura Ellsworth, Steve Meyer, Dee Carey, Steve Masoner, Brian Kyle, Pastor Don Shoemaker, Bill Ayres, Jim Klisanin, Emily Frasier, Bob Eagle, Pat McCormick, Joanne Yeo, Judy Smith, Jim & Judy Watson, Stan Anderson, Barbara Blackmun & Barbara Wright, George Willis and many more. Junior Grand Marshals were started in 2004, and our first one was Paul Cabral, a proud Lion to this day.

Of course, the star attraction of any Christmas Parade is the appearance of Santa Claus, who has made a grand appearance at every parade. Men like Tom Rose, Mike Leonard, Doug Hoxeng, Bob Eagle, and now the current officeholder have all donned the red suit to usher in the holidays atop the city’s 1929 American LaFrance Fire Engine. Scott Newton has headed this large community project and been Chairman since 2004.

In the early years, there were 25-35 entries each year, and it slowly rose annually until 2010, there were more than 100 entries and 3,000+ participants. Due merely to space and time constraints, the parade has been limited to around 100 entries each year. Since I began co-chairing the show in 2010, the event keeps getting better, and not necessarily more significant in the volume of people in the parade.

Participants and entries vary widely, but most come from Seal Beach and the communities that serve the Los Alamitos School District. Two-thirds of the participants are kids from sports programs, scouting, YMCA, youth groups, and local churches. The kids in the parade are the real ‘celebrities’ of the Seal Beach Christmas Parade.

The Seal Beach Business Association first sponsored the parade with support from the City of Seal Beach. Soon after the Lions joined in to manage parade Logistics and when the Business Association merged with the Chamber, it became a Chamber-Lions –City run event for nearly 20 years. In 2013, the Seal Beach Lions Club became the parade producer with co-production from the City of Seal Beach and generous sponsors. More than 250 Lions, Leos, and other volunteers manage staging, line-up, security, and parade route marshaling to help make this a fun, safe, and festive holiday event. This year, our title sponsor is the Fresh Cut Creative along with the Orange County Neighborhood News (OCNN) as our official media partner and official guidebook sponsor. They are joined by many more, including the always dynamic and amusing Fresh Cut Creative.

We are starting this year with a ribbon-cutting and SBPD launch at 7 p.m. sharp, rain or shine on the sixth of December. Our parade will run from the pier and turning right onto PCH until finally terminating at 10th Street. It’s 1/3 of a mile where you may let your holiday spirit rise in harmony with thousands of others who are just glad to be here, on this night, together.

Seth Eaker is the co-chairman of the Seal Beach Christmas Parade

Looking back on the Annual Seal Beach Christmas Parade