Published November 19, 2013
Volume 21, Number 11

Pleasanton Hometown Holidays Celebration Kicks Off Festive Season December 7

The members of Girl Scout Troup 32815 enjoy last year's parade.
Photo Credit: Autumn Johnson Pleasanton Patch

Pleasanton’s community spirit is a marquee attraction of the city, and it will be on display in full force at next month’s Hometown Holidays Celebration. The much-loved event brings together up to 25,000 spectators—local residents, friends, families, and co-workers--in a formal welcome to the holiday season.

The festivities start at 5 p.m. with a colorful parade and conclude with the official tree-lighting, a community sing-along, and the eagerly anticipated arrival of Santa Claus.

For almost two hours on Saturday evening December 7th, Downtown Main Street will become a river of entertainment as a succession of floats, marching bands, clubs, and an assortment of animals—including the mounts of the East Bay Regional Parks Trail Safety Patrol--wend their way from the Rose Hotel to the Veterans Memorial Building.

Roughly 70 different groups are busy planning the details of their presence, be it community organizations on imaginative floats, scout troops on bikes and scooters, clusters of costumed preschoolers, sports teams, or fleets of antique cars. Returning favorites this year include the Amador and Foothill high school marching bands and Pleasanton’s own Balloon Platoon, a source of merriment around the globe.

“We’ll see angels, gingerbread men, and people wrapped as presents,” notes Michelle Stearns, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Pleasanton, the celebration’s sponsor.

While they started as two separate events, the parade and tree-lighting were merged into a single festivity and brought under the city umbrella back in 1997. A handful of city staff work hand in hand with a volunteer steering committee to attend to the logistical details, of which there are many—set-up, tear-down, clean-up, formation, disband, and so forth. Tasks also include the selection of nonprofits to sell beverages and snacks, the only vendors (aside from merchants) stationed along the route.

“It takes a volunteer staff of about 120 on site to pull it all off,” says Brian Dutchover, a Pleasanton resident and business owner who is now in his 20th year chairing the committee. “That’s a lot of people for a two-hour event!”

One thing that is notably absent from the celebration is the commercial message. “We have many businesses participating, but this is not a venue to market a business, it’s an opportunity to give back to the community,” Dutchover observes. Meadowlark Dairy “is the personification of what this event is all about,” he continues, pointing out that the only branding on its parade entry is the small logo on its truck.

In all, there are from 2,500 to 3,000 parade participants, about 75 percent of whom are under the age of 12.

Emphasizing the inclusive nature of the event, Dutchover comments, “The Hometown Holidays Celebration is a good avenue for anyone in the community to be involved—by being in the parade or the tree-lighting, or as a volunteer or even a spectator. It’s a great way to be plugged into the spirit of the community, and it’s 100 percent fun.”

For more information, including details on volunteer opportunities, go to www.cityofpleasantonca.gov/pdf/hometownholiday.pdf.


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