Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
The Manteca Chamber of Commerce has the pleasure every year of putting on the Christmas parade. The work that goes into such an event starts months in advance. This year’s parade had the most entries I have ever seen in my 10 years of being involved with the parade. I personally have been in charge of the parade for 5 years. I want to thank all the sponsors and the volunteers who worked the parade, Chamber board members, Chamber Ambassadors, the judges, the announcer, the police department, streets department, CERTS, SHARP, fire department, The Place of Refuge, the Historical Museum, and my friends and family. Without this small army this parade cannot be such a success.
The entries this year were so awesome, the look on the children’s faces is worth all the months, weeks, days and hours of hard work it takes in organizing this event. This year the parade had a slight problem.
At about 4:45 p.m. there was a fire on Yosemite Avenue in the middle of the parade route. There were thousands of spectators lining the street where the fire was. It was time for the parade to start and I was informed by Travis Gooch (firefighter and ambassador for the chamber) who was driving the antique fire engine in the parade that he had been called to leave and go to the station due to the fire. Patrol officer Patrick Danapour was in charge of traffic for the parade. Officer Danapour informed me that we could not proceed down Yosemite Ave and that it would take a few hours before the fire department could clear the street. Officer David Bright said, how about if we divert the parade. Officer Bill Wilmer said, yeah, we can do it. I asked Officer Bright if he could go down and check the route and make sure the floats could make the turns. He went and checked the route and came back and said, they can make it. We all looked at each other and Officer Bright said, it’s Officer Danapour’s call. He said, let’s do it. It was 10 after 5 and 3 motor officers proceeded down Yosemite Ave. and moved about 5000 people to the alternate route!
They returned at 5:30 p.m. and said let the parade begin. I want to thank the Manteca Police Department, Motor Officers Patrick Danapour, David Bright and Bill Wilmer for an outstanding job performance. They took charge of a situation and made sure thousands of adults and children were moved safely and secured an alternate parade route so the thousand of parade participants could maneuver safely and intact. As I drove the parade route with my grandchildren and saw all the faces I was so happy that the parade did not get cancelled. As I made my way back to where the parade started I realized there was no antique fire engine for Santa to ride in at the end of the parade. I asked Officer Danapour if he could go and get Santa and I would drive Santa in my car. I drove Santa in the Corvette. That was the most rewarding ride I have ever taken. The children were so excited; the parents were saying there’s Santa! At a few points we came to a full stop and parents and children came out to shake Santa’s hand. As I drove Santa back to where he was parked, he said that experience made him as happy as it made the children. I agreed. To know that one evening brought so much joy to thousands of people is priceless. And as I write this on Sunday at 6 a.m. I still have a smile on my face. I am thankful for all our blessings, Merry Christmas!
PS. As I waited to proceed in the parade, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill’s car pulled up next to me, and a gentleman riding in the car rolled down the window and said to me, Manteca has the best police force of any town I have been in, you guys are lucky.
Chief Executive Officer
Manteca Chamber of Commerce