The steam rising from cups of hot chocolate, clutched in mittened hands accompanied the laughter of families that lined the streets of Downtown Los Altos for the Festival of Lights Parade this past Sunday. Old friendships were renewed and new bonds formed as the communities of Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and several others gathered together to witness the festivities of the holidays. A yearly tradition, the Festival of Lights Parade includes several marching bands, including those of Mountain View, Los Altos, Monta Vista, Saint Francis, Homestead, and numerous other high schools. Additionally, community businesses piece together floats that are occupied by important community figures. The entire atmosphere of the event was one of holiday cheer and communal understanding.
Leading the procession were the mayors of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, each borne by a specially marked car. The community presence was amplified when each mayor was seen addressing individuals and families on either side of the crowded main streets with a warm smile and a wave of the hand.
“It’s really just so wonderful to see the kids, and people you hear about, and families, and all these happy people here together. It really makes you appreciate the holidays,” one mother said.
Marching bands, denoted by intricately designed banners paraded in perfect time while exuding cheery tunes and somehow finding it within themselves to smile to the onlookers in spite of the cold. Often preceding were members of the school color guard, tossing mock rifles and flags high into the air while performing various routines.
The floats themselves were astounding. Each represented a business or establishment of the local community. Hundreds of hours were spent planning, designing, and laboring to complete each float to round out the 56 total entries in the parade. Each was as spectacular as the last, decked to the rafters with lights and moving pieces and with full sound systems, every float was a sight in itself. One float was enough to hold an entire band as they laid cheerily into their instruments for the pleasure of the crowd.
As the parade closed with one last brilliant float, smiling people of all ages flooded into the streets with high hearts and light feet. The community had come together over this joyous event and reached a greater sense of unity through communal engagement.