Sunday, December 08, 2013

Festival of Lights Parade 2013

The annual Festival of Lights parade in downtown Palm Springs is a cute, small-town version of Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade with a dash of Burning Man thrown in for good measure.

The opening performers are usually the excellent Palm Springs High School Band marching down Palm Canyon, with Christmas lights draped around their instruments and clothing.

The group made history in 2006 when they marched in the Palm Springs Gay Pride Parade, possibly the first time a high school marching band had done so in the nation. A recently released short film by a Palm Springs mother-son combo who participated in the event documents the initial controversy, death threats, and eventual mutual delight of both the band members and gay community. (Click here for a Vimeo download).

In truth, what was most impressive was listening to the percussion section practicing and improvising before the parade began. They were so advanced and sharp in their musicianship they sounded ready for Xenakis, though the Christmas audience probably would not have been receptive.

Instead, there were neighborhood groups working together at hauling huge seasonal balloons down the street and ducking under streetlights.

There was a lovingly illuminated garbage truck...

...followed by a daisy-chained fleet of outrageously decorated taxis.

Best of all, my friend Steve Wibben above had snagged two wearable light strands attached to small battery packs at the invaluable Palm Springs True Value Hardware Store that afternoon.

We looked semi-official, as we booed Celebrity Grand Marshall Susanne Somers, and cheered Patty Delgado, matriarch of Las Casuelas restaurants.

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