There were toddlers wearing footed PJs dancing in the street. There was a man sporting a black sombrero riding a Brahma bull.
There was a dude herding cats — although he claimed he was director of the Washington Middle School Marching Band.
There were thousands of smiles, hundreds of princess parade waves, and enough good will toward men to make you feel like everything is going to be all right after all.
It was the Bakersfield Christmas Parade, packed with a projected 20,000 people — and, by all indications, it was festive as all get-out.
“It’s an every-year tradition for us,” said Daniel Hernandez, whose wife, Erica, was holding down their curbside spot by 5 p.m., 90 minutes before the parade kicked into Yuletide cheer.
“The parade kind of starts off the Christmas spirit for us,” Hernandez said. “It gets you in the holiday mood.”
That seemed to be the case for most everybody there.
Sisters Nina and Shatya Johnson were smiling big, and when the Stockdale High band marched by with just a little bit of funk in their step, their smiles grew bigger.
Back at the start of the parade route, Charlene and George Lane and their team of horses were champing at the bit, more than ready to roll. The Lanes, of Lane Ranch in Lancaster, have been running Wells Fargo’s stagecoach for 28 years.
“We’ll be in the Pasadena Rose Parade on New Year’s Day,” said Charlene Lane. “Every time we come to Bakersfield, we go for Basque food and make a stop at Dewar’s.”
There were classic cars — including a beautiful ‘47 Chevy — Corvettes, trucks, quads, motorcycles and skateboards.
The Murray Farms float (“Have a Murray Christmas!”) featured a live band doing a jazzy version of “Holly Jolly Christmas.” The name of the band? The Mistletones.
One of the stars of the parade had to be Ollivier Middle School’s lion mascot. Somewhere beneath the heavy costume was 12-year-old seventh-grader Aubrey Hughes — although with loads of attitude and verve, Hughes made the costume seem light as lion dander at she ran alongside the lines of parade-goers, striking poses and showing Ollivier’s lion pride.
“What a great parade,” mother of three Rhonda Jones called from curbside.
And it really was.
The weather outside was far from frightful. The floats were so delightful.
And the mood was set for another holiday season.