January marks the beginning of the calendar year and the beginning of resolutions for people across the country and while many folks are looking ahead, I would like to take a peak back. Generally speaking, I am a forward thinker and like to have a few steps planned out in front of me but at the end of each year I think that a moment of reflection can help to ground us and keep us in the moment. While I have looked back throughout the past year, I think that one of the most recent events at the Downtown Association warrants a good article.
The San Luis Obispo Downtown Association held it’s 39th annual Holiday Parade on December 5th despite the impending storm that was predicted by many to ruin the night. Ever the optimist, I was unwilling to let a storm rain on our parade. Our office was in full gear right up until 1 PM on parade day when we were set to make the final call. In the days leading up to that call we were watching multiple weather forecasts and holding out for the chance that the storm was going to fizzle out or move around us. Both of which ultimately ended up happening but not before a little bit of dreary drama soaked the Central Coast.
Our office phones were off the hook all day Thursday and Friday and our staff feverishly answered inquiries about the fate of one of our county’s most beloved holiday events and I cannot tell a lie, we were stressing about the chance that we would have to cancel the parade.
The thought of cancelling the parade in my first year at the Downtown Association was weighing heavy on my mind while I stared at screens of forecasted weather, hour-by-hour radar images and every posted percentage of rain. Ultimately, at 1 o’clock we announced that the parade would go on rain or shine and tagged on the extra bit “Bring an umbrella.” While many people were excited to brave a bit of precipitation to see bright lights and garlands strung throughout Downtown some people criticized the decision citing their all knowing iPhone’s prediction that there was a 100% chance of rain. Looking back, we made the right call and utilized as much information as we had available to predict that by 5:30 PM the rains would cease and part for a big enough window to have some holiday cheer.
In the midst of all that was going on our judges were able to keep their scorecards dry and their eyes keen so that they could review each entry for a chance at receiving an award. With the Hula Holiday theme many of the floats got in spirit and brought out their finest grass skirts and leis while others just went for the biggest and brightest truck that they could find and stuffed as many kids as possible onto it. With so much energy and effort put forth our judges had a hard time choosing but the results became as clear as the night sky after a big storm blows through.
The winners were:
Best in Theme – Congratulations to Stephen, Todd and the whole gang at The BladeRunner Salon & Day Spa/ Stephen Patrick Design, even if you boys did ALS ice bucket challenge me on blast.
Most Entertaining – Congratulations to the world famous unicycling troupe of the SLO Juggling and Unicycle Club.
Most Creative – The SLO County Library proves that books develop creativity and their float was the proof in the pudding. Congratulations to the SLO County Library.
Best Music – The sounds of the Cayucos School Steel Pan Band float was a crowd (and judge) pleaser this year, which earned them the honor of having the best tunes in the parade.
All in all, the key take away is that at our office we love putting on events and we pour our hearts and souls into every event we produce. We do it because despite the tense moments leading up to the event, nothing can trump the expression on all of the faces of the masses that willingly face down inclement weather to share in the joys of the holidays with their neighbors. At the end of this year’s parade I realized not only how lucky I was that the weather held up for us but also how lucky I was to have a community that supports our organization enough to stand by our decision to have a wet parade at worst. Thank you to all of you that showed up to join us in our Hula Holiday!