SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Every year, thousands of people line the streets of Santa Maria for the Christmas Parade of Lights. For many families, it's a tradition.
This year, organizers are preparing to host the 23rd annual parade.
"What’s neat is, you don’t often see the entire community come out together like this,” said Mike Gibson, parade co-chair.
There are 103 entries and about 25 thousand people expected at the parade. Organizing the logistics is no easy task.
"It’s a real team effort, it's a community-wide effort. There are 200 [volunteers] people involved in this thing,” said Gibson.
He said another 3,000 people will be on the floats and staging area. Organizers said police are ready to manage the large crowds
"There are 24 officers from the Santa Maria Police Department and several other local police departments,” Gibson added.
The first entry steps out at Stowell and Broadway at 5:20 p.m. and travels north.
People planning to drive in the area at that time should pack their patience.
"The best thing to do is to come to the parade, park around the area, and walk over to the game afterward,” said Gibson.
Gibson said the parade is expected to last until about 7:30. Then, 15 minutes later the attention and excitement shifts over to Santa Maria High School.
"This year we have a new wrinkle is that the football is going on. It’s very exciting, the CIF championship,” he said.
Streets like Stowell will close at 3 p.m. and Broadway at 4 p.m.
"This year it’s going to be challenging because we have to get everyone to the staging area no later than 6 o’clock,” Gibson added.
Despite the challenges, Gibson said the parade is all about the joy of giving. People who attend are encouraged to bring some canned good along with them.
"We collect canned goods for the Salvation Army for this event,” he said.
If you can't get out to the parade, you can watch it live on KCOY 12 and on our website, KCOY.com.
For more information about the parade visit: http://smparadeoflights.org.