Like many things this year, Escalon’s annual Christmas on Main Street had to adjust.
Not able to host the traditional parade and festivities in the Main Street Park due to COVID restrictions, the evening instead featured a drive-thru parade on Main.
Floats were set up alongside the roadway, which featured one-way traffic control from First to Third streets, as the floats were brightly lit up and helped entertain a long line of cars making their way along the route.
Cars lined up on Coley Avenue – looking like the stream of vehicles in the waning moments of Field of Dreams – to enjoy a ‘reverse parade’ to mark the holiday.
Among the floats, the Escalon City Council was stationed in front of the caboose on Main Street, the Friends of the Escalon Library were there, the Escalon Lions Club, several families came in with a variety of floats, Van Allen had its Viking atop a float and Santa made an appearance as well.
“They’re making an effort,” Lions Club member John Salvin said as he got ready to wave to parade goers.
The event was scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and those driving the route could tune their radios to 106.7 FM to hear a review of the float entries, some mention of sponsors and information about the retooled holiday celebration.
Organizers noted that some vehicles drove through the parade route more than once, and they encouraged attendees to do the loop as many times as they wanted.
Nativity scenes, snow machines, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department and K9 unit and even the Grinch, high atop the Escalon Police Department SWAT vehicle, were featured along the route.
The Escalon Chamber of Commerce, City of Escalon, Escalon Lions Club, Escalon Sunrise Rotary, Escalon Kiwanis Club and several families took part to put on the event. Local Main Street businesses also stepped up and decorated, with employees Sophie Buzzini and Stephanie Nagle from The Butler’s Pantry taking time to craft a snowman on the sidewalk outside the business, courtesy of a snow making machine.
RCM Power Washing was also set up to spew out snowflakes, with Sonya Huff and Debbie Murken providing a warm welcome for those attending the event.
Vintage vehicles on display were provided by Linda Gentry, Randy Schmidt, and Barbara and Charlie Bumgarner.
Escalon City Manager Tammy Alcantor said she was extremely pleased with the event overall, with a long line of cars full of families enjoying the parade. She also said a Friday night Drive-In Movie Night saw decent attendance at the first showing, despite steady rain. The second, later showing saw just one vehicle and, after a quick showing of the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ cartoon and continued rain, Alcantor said she let the family take the DVD of the main feature ‘A Christmas Story’ with them to enjoy at home, with a promise to return it to City Hall.
She added that the big screen, set up by Public Works employees, worked well and they are looking forward to hosting additional family drive in movies in the future, thanking Tom McCoy at Quality Service on McHenry for allowing the use of his parking lot for the movie night.
Meanwhile, back at the parade on Saturday night, Jim and Janice Van Vliet had their 1927 Ford Model T on display while nine-year-old Briley Silva enjoyed portraying Victoria the Viking, the Van Allen Elementary School mascot.
The Balison family, mom Sarah, dad Patrick and daughter Adalyn, 13, set up a nativity scene, utilizing figures left over from a VBS program.
Mike and Ruberta Levers were entrants in the parade as well, keeping up a longstanding tradition of being involved, while Todd O’Neill was doing video of the event for the city to post on its website.
Finally, Santa, Mrs. Claus and six-year-old Jingle Belle loved waving to the passing motorists.
“Be careful and be safe,” Santa advised the youngsters, adding that leaving milk and cookies out for him when they go to bed on Christmas Eve is still a good idea.