Downtown Bakersfield Christmas Parade organizers have made their list and are checking it twice to make sure all is ready for the big event on Thursday.

Parade coordinator Pam Carlock has spent the last several days on the final touches of this year's parade, which begins at 6 p.m. at the intersection of 22nd and L streets. There are 70 volunteer workers to meet and assign; sanitation, clean up and security services to confirm; and vendors to schedule. The Santa float is ready, and the last advertisements promoting the parade are scheduled to run.

"For me, it's just dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's, and hoping we have really great weather," Carlock said.

Planning begins almost as soon as the previous parade is finished. Meeting in January, the committee decides on a theme, and starts sending out applications for participants. During the year, the committee selects a mix of floats, bands, marching teams and vehicle groups to participate.

With a theme of "An American Christmas," Carlock said this year's parade also has bit more participation from the military, including the Band of the Golden West from Travis Air Force Base, and a contingent from the United States Marine Corps.

A major focus for the committee is fundraising. The parade is a 501(c)4 corporation, and has solicited major sponsors for this year's parade, estimated to cost approximately $28,000 for office expenses during the year, plus advertising, lighting, sanitation and cleanup services for the parade. Just before Thanksgiving, Carlock announced that Dignity Health had signed on as a major sponsor for the parade, and she said the committee was also able to get a grant from PG&E. The committee also teamed up with the Bakersfield College culinary arts program, Urner's and Imbibe for a cooking competition on Oct. 27.

Coordination with the business and local government communities is another major task for the parade. In addition to fundraising, the committee needs vendors and local institutions to provide food and activities at the activity centers and Christmas Square Marketplaces scattered throughout downtown on parade day. And the parade has to make sure downtown businesses don't get crowded out by the spectators and police roadblocks.

"We're coordinating with business, especially restaurants for access, parking," said Downtown Business Association president Cathy Butler.

Carlock said parking will be available on 19th Street and streets south to Truxtun Avenue, and the 18th Street parking garage and Bank of America garage will also be available.

"But they do fill quickly," Carlock said.

The parade has also attracted many other holiday events around it. Butler said the trees along Chester Avenue will be lit on Monday. The monthly First Friday event, on Dec. 7, will include a salute to the military in honor of the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of City Hall. On Dec. 9, San Joaquin Hospital will open its new cancer center, and dedicate the center's resource library in honor of nurse and advocate Wendy Wayne, who died from cancer on June 17 of this year.

"That will include a lighting extravaganza," Butler said. "The trees along that area are going to be called 'Wendy's Angels.'"

-- Susan Scaffidi Christmas cheer is spreading all over Kern County. Catch these other local parades if you can.


Taft Christmas Parade, 6 p.m., begins on the west end of Center Street, Taft. 765-2165.

Wasco Christmas Parade, 6:30 p.m., begins at Seventh and Oak streets, Wasco. 758-2746.


Delano Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, 6 p.m., starts at Main Street and Ninth Avenue, Delano.

Dec. 15

40th annual NOR Children's Christmas Parade, "Winter Wonderland," 10 a.m., North Chester Avenue in Oildale. 392-2060.

32nd annual Christmas Run & Christmas Parade, run begins at 10 a.m. followed by parade at 1 p.m., starting at Perkins Avenue and Fifth Street, McFarland. 792-3187.