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Twilight parade brings Santa to Manteca Saturday
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• WHAT: Manteca Chamber of Commerce Twilight Christmas parade
• WHERE: Downtown Manteca on Yosemite Avenue
• WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 4, 5 p.m.
• MORE INFO: Call 823-6121

There are 10 bands, hundreds of smiling kids doing everything from twirling to dancing, and fire engines bringing up the rear carrying the guest of honor.

They are all part of Manteca’s longest running  Christmas tradition known as the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Twilight Holiday Parade. The 34th annual edition is this Saturday at 5 p.m. in downtown Manteca. It runs along Yosemite Avenue starting at Library Park and runs to Garfield Avenue by Manteca High.

And if it is anything like previous years 6,000 to 8,000 people will line Yosemite Avenue sometimes six deep to catch a glimpse.

“This may be our biggest parade yet,” noted Manteca Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer Debby Moorhead.

There are 96 entries including a number that have multiple entries such as the Manteca Youth Focus. That group’s entry has 10 separate components. Santa traditionally brings up the rear aboard a Manteca Fire Department engine.

Every entry is required to have lights that add to the festive feel.

Among the more interesting entries this year are Clydesdales pulling a carriage and new groups entering floats including the Manteca Firefighters Association as well as Assemblyman Bill Berryhill.

All of the Manteca Unified School District music program bands - both high school and elementary - are entered. So are all of the JROTC units that encompass Manteca, Sierra, East Union, Weston Ranch, and Lathrop high schools.

The theme this year is “Let it Snow.”

Joe Pellegrino is the parade marshal. The retired Army lieutenant colonel served two tours in Vietnam. Pellegrino, 71, at one point in his career was assigned to the Strategic Air Command in Washington, D.C., for four and a half years. Pellegrino flew in support of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, the Secretary of Defense, and top-level military and civilian authorities of the Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Administration, and the White House.

He was one of the military officers who were cuffed to “the football” - the attaché case carrying the nuclear codes - who stayed in close proximity with the president whenever he traveled.

Pellegrino was serving as executive director f the chamber nine years ago when he launched the Flags Over Manteca effort. Today the marquee chamber project places 2,400 flags along major Manteca streets seven different times throughout the year.

This year’s parade sponsors are the 133 Club, P.L. Fry & Son Funeral Home, Eddie’s Pizza, and the Brocchini Family Partnership.

The Brocchini Family has a long history of being associated with the parade. Matriarch Mabel Brocchini and the late Gladys Brock were the original organizers who kept it going for two decades plus. The Brocchini children including Marvin have been among the perennial volunteers that assemble the parade units each year.