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Palo Alto celebrates return of May Fete Parade

Photo by Poppy Barclay

The Kiwanis Club held the 98th annual May Fete Parade for the first time since 2019 on May 7. Marching bands from each PAUSD secondary school, Bay Area nonprofits and local families (and pets) participated in the parade.

Second in the parade, Paly’s varsity dance team performed their routines to the band’s live music with white pom-poms. Junior dancer Victoria Senderzon said the Paly dance team has been in the parade for as long as she can remember.

“We do it every year,” Senderzon said. “It’s tradition to dance with the band.”

Senderzon said it was difficult to learn how to dance while walking down a street.

“We’re not used to doing it moving, so we (danced in) circles around the dance floor to practice,” Senderszon said. “It’s definitely a little bit chaotic … but it’s a lot of fun.”

Parade participants marched down University Avenue and Waverley Street, stopping at Heritage park to enjoy a festival complete with games, food trucks and a prize table for kids.

For many years, the Kiwanis Club nonprofit organization has orchestrated the May Fete Parade, but Kiwanis member Lanie Wheeler said the parade has a long history of organizers.

“(When I first heard) about the fair, it was held at Addison school because that’s where the parade ended, and it was sponsored by the Addison PTA,” Wheeler said. “I think they may have used it as a fundraiser for the PTA, (but) it was a big job to organize and it’s not a real moneymaker, so PIE took it over from Addison and, again, tried to use it as a fundraiser.”

Wheeler said the Kiwanis also believed they could use the parade as a moneymaker at first, but when that didn’t work out, they decided to keep organizing the fair anyway because of the positive community response they received.

“The first year (we organized the parade), we thought it would be a fundraiser for us, too, (but) then we found out that it really isn’t,” Wheeler said, “But we’re all about community service, and particularly community service in Palo Alto. So we’ve decided to carry on with the fair.”

For the first time since 2019, COVID-19 restrictions have relaxed enough for the Kiwanis to organize the parade and fair. After three years, Wheeler said she and the other Kiwanis are just happy to see everybody come together again and celebrate.

“It’s very exciting to be back,” Wheeler said. “It’s so nice seeing real people again … and we enjoy doing this for the kids of the community.”

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