Community celebrates May Fete Parade

H undreds of onlookers gathered on May 4 to watch the annual May Fete Children’s Parade, consisting of an assortment of spectacles progressing down University Avenue.  The theme of this year’s parade, “Happy 125th Birthday Palo Alto,” celebrated the 125th anniversary of Palo Alto’s initial founding.

Each year, the parade fills the streets of downtown Palo Alto with live music, colorful costumes and handmade floats.

Starting at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Emerson Street and University Avenue, the parade moved down Waverley Street before turning right at its closing at Heritage Park.

U.S. Government and Contemporary World History teacher Mary Sano has been participating in the parade ever since she can remember and believes that it is of vital importance to Palo Alto’s history.

“(The event) is a low-tech, old-school parade, which you cannot say that about many things these days. It’s one of the things where kids get to participate just by being a kid in this city, and where the people in the city get together to just celebrate.”

Mary Sano

Over 2,200 participants attended the parade made up of members from 55 community organizations and school clubs.

The majority of spectators were colorfully-dressed children accompanied by their parents, along with student-performers of Palo Alto schools.

With seven live band performances and decorated floats following the theme, the parade celebrated and honored the city’s birthday.

“The Paly Pep Band is always boosted by the parade, and we play songs in the event each year,” Snyder said. “This has been my fourth year as a part of the parade, and it is always a lot of fun playing songs with my friends in the band. I always look forward to seeing the community come together by making music.”

The Paly dance team worked with the Pep Band to choreograph music and live performances for the event.

“I had so much fun this year working on the parade with them because it was May 4, or Star Wars day. I was really proud of how well the girls remembered all of that new choreography as well as how they performed overall during the parade. Lots of their family and friends were watching from the sidelines and cheering them on, so that always makes our jobs feel great as well.”

Alanna Williamson

Another regular component of the parade is the float competition where contestants can win cash. This year, The Godoy Family received the $500 prize for first place.Our School, a Menlo-Atherton nursery school, followed in second place, winning $250. In third place, Addison Elementary School won $125 for its float commending the city’s environmentally sustainable practices with a school bus filled with recycled material.

The Museum of American Heritage held its 15th annual Vintage Vehicle car show at Heritage Park where the parade ends.

In addition to the show, the museum also entertained residents with the Family Festival, consisting of a multitude of games and activities for families partaking in the parade from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

The Palo Alto Historical Association was the parade’s Grand Marshal for its work in the continued preservation of Palo Alto’s city history.  An honorary title awarded based on the parade’s theme, it is given each year to an organization that has aided in the production of the parade.

According to the May Fete Parade website, the annual parade has been held in Palo Alto every May since 1920 when the Community Center Commission originally sponsored it as a major city-wide event.

The popularity of the parade grew immensely and has now become a fundamental component in Palo Alto’s long history and origination.

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