The OB Holiday Parade – So much fun, it should be illegal!

by on December 7, 2009 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach


The upper blocks of Newport buzzed with chaotic energy two hours before “showtime”. Here and there along the avenue groups of people cloistered. Antique cars jockeyed with Woodies for position. The Point Loma High marching band went through their last minute warm-ups. And OB Town Council volunteers wearing blue tee shirts gently prodded various floats and groups into their starting positions. One house on the 4700 block even had a grill going. It was more like a tailgate party than the staging area for a Christmas parade. And then again, it wasn’t just any parade they were getting ready for: it was the OB Christmas Parade.

Macy’s may have their giant animated balloon characters. The Rose Bowl may have their floral floats. And Coronado’s Fourth of July parade may have a lock on patriotic symbolism. But none of them beats the straight-out quirkiness, done with a smile on its face, a song in its heart, a small town feel and room for all comers that the Ocean Beach Christmas Parade has on the first Saturday night in December every year.

In addition to the marching bands, troops of scouts, business-sponsored floats and local luminaries that you might see at these other parades, the event featured some rather unusual participants. Entrants like the OB Geriatric Surf Club, Russell the Electric Giraffe, the We Just Want To Be in The Parade Float, the OB Off-Key Choir and The OB Skateboarders amused and entertained the crowds throughout the evening. And then there were the llamas, camels, sheep and goats, followed by a couple of guys with shovels and a rolling trash can to clean up any messes. And the Dueling Pianos, the disco wonderland, and the Calgary Chapel Christmas Carol Karaoke Boat.

The sidewalks along Newport Avenue were packed by 4:30. Early comers camped out with chairs and blankets to claim the prime viewing spots. And the chill in the air packed local java joints with spectators angling for a hot cuppa joe or hot chocolate to ward off the cold.

The parade was supposed to start at 5:05pm “OB Standard Time”, and it did, sort of. Right about that time a dozen or so choppers roared down the Avenue, adorned with a few Christmas decorations and a lot of smiling bikers. They weren’t really part of the parade, but the crowd enthusiastically cheered them anyhow. The a group of kids whizzed by on skateboards. And then, a mere ten minutes late, the show was under way.

A color guard led the way, followed by a mass of students, parents and teachers from this year’s official “Marshall”: OB Elementary School, celebrating its centennial year in the community.

Then came the politicians, a sort of back-handed tribute to the grass roots political power that the community has wielded in past years in opposing the various schemes that past administrations’ have put forward towards destroying the soul of this beach community. Now, politicians feel obliged to put an appearance at OB events, lest the natives get “restless” again. Mayor Saunders convertible was followed by a black SUV just in case, we guessed, things broke bad.

The crowd lining the parade route was friendly and festive, calling out friends they saw in parade, cheering the various floats, jumping out in the street to take pictures, and even pitching in to help out when necessary, as happened when a woodie needed to be push started in the 4900 block of Newport.

As for the parade itself, well, it was jam packed with saints, sinners, zoomers, noisemakers, causes, creations, musicians, cheerleaders and…. so much more! There were Girl Scouts and Boys Scout, churches and bars, veterans and marching bands, antique cars and no gas scooters. It just went on and on. And on and on. For over two hours. Boy, was it fun! Everybody seemed to be having a great time. My fingers were too cold to keep taking notes after about 90 minutes, so we’ll add a complete list of participants if we can find one.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mr fresh December 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

was it a halloween parade or a christmas parade?


avatar Comrade Xian December 7, 2009 at 11:46 am

Yo’ Freshy,- It was a freakin’ HOLIDAY parade! That means Hanuka, Kwanza, Solstice, Satanmas, Saturnalia, or whatever… Season of D’ Light! you dig?- Comrade Xtian


avatar obsteven December 7, 2009 at 10:45 am

I just love the O.B. Christmas Parade. During my first year in O.B. the parade was what really solidified to me that I had found the right town to reside. It represented what I always believed that the holidays could be in the right circumstance. The holidays could be fun. O.B. has a parade with a bunch of fun people not hung up on trying to have the flashiest parade. We are more concerned with having the parade with the most fun.

We might consider having the marshmallow fight at the Christmas Parade during the “Politician Portion”. One year I was very intoxicated at the O.B. Christmas Parade and threw the most amazing “no-look, behind the back, over the shoulder, Dr. J hook shot” with a miniature candy cane thrown to me from some float and and hit a motorcycle cop in the helmet. It was probably technically assaulting a police officer. It most certainly was a crime. In retrospect it was a really stupid, immature, and dangerous thing to do. He could have been spooked by the candy cane and crashed into a paraplegic dog who already has enough trouble with his little cart rusting up every time he goes to dog beach. I would have felt really bad. Poor dog.

I did however wake up the next morning feeling like I had stuck it to the man. Candy cane form. It felt sweet. I kept watching the news and reading the paper to see if they were looking for what the press was sure to name “Candy Man”. They never mentioned it. They probably wanted to prevent copycat crimes.

I will happily donate my time the next day to clean marshmallows off Newport after the next Christmas Parade if we can throw them at Faulkner and Dumanus during the “Politician Portion”.


avatar Amber Conley December 7, 2009 at 11:13 am

The volunteer coordinators are absolutely fantastic! You can tell these folks like Kelly & Carol have it under control! For all the madness, the organization is tops. Our kids at OB Elementary had such a blast. And me, as a first year judge, can’t wait to do it again!

My favorite part, was getting to listen to the Noah Tafolla and Mike James banter, and when the gingerbread man was spotted in front of Southbeach, then ran thru the crowd.

Halarity ensued!

My fave float, aside from our own birthday cake float, was Gallaghers. It looked
fantastic! Also, the guys on stilts, .. sorry, I forgot the name, but they said they have been in the parade for like 8 years, and of course, the disco dancers!

And we perfectly missed the big storm!



avatar bodysurferbob December 7, 2009 at 9:42 pm

i really feel sorry for people who have to read that sign across newport from the west – ’cause then it’s backwards and their whole holiday goes down the drain – i mean what were they thinking? it’s very prejudicial to eastward looking people.


avatar obbohemian December 9, 2009 at 2:46 am

I love a parade. Especially THE OB CHRISTMAS PARADE. It did start remarkably close to the announced start time-just minus the appropriate minutes to coincide with “O.B. Time”. I enjoyed the wonderfully eclectic gathering of people and the energy surrounding it, as usual.
But, I feel compelled to ask/comment about something…
Did anyone else, besides me, notice the extra-ordinary length of the parade this year?
I made sure to be on Newport at around 5 15, so I wouldn’t miss anything (last year or the year before, the parade was over 15 minutes after I arrived). This year, BOY-howdy! I got more than I expected. The parade went ON and ON and ON….I would like to think that the presence of the “politicians” were the culprits who took up space in the lineup, but there were several participants parading past me of whom I had no idea who they represented or what their gig was.
I would never complain, of course. I’m just saying that this year will go into my personal (mental) history book of OB experiences, as the Longest darned OB parade I have ever attended.
The organizers did an excellent job-and I loved it!
I should have brought a chair.


avatar doug porter December 9, 2009 at 10:14 am

it’s true that many of the entries in the parade were poorly “labeled”. i was actually trying to keep track and gave up eventually. however, given the choice of bringing a chair (and more fortifying beverages) or having a shorter parade for next year, i’d opt on the side of better beverages. long it was. but it was also f.u.n.


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