There are many, many reasons why I love my little neighborhood of Ocean Beach in San Diego: our proximity to the beach, the sense of community, how dog-friendly it is, Taco Tuesdays, the farmer's market... the list goes on and on.
And the annual Holiday Parade is definitely on that list.
Last year, Ryan and I and our friends Ian, Desiree and Rob wandered over to the parade for the first time. Hundreds of people were lined up on both sides of the street, all the way down Newport Ave, the main drag in OB. We watched as dozens of random floats and groups paraded down the street, many of them with seemingly no affiliation to any organization: they were just in it to have fun.
That's when we realized: anybody can be in the Ocean Beach Holiday Parade.
That night, several drinks later, we decided that we would be "anybody" the following year.
As far as drunken ideas go? This was one of our best ones.
It's here that I have to be especially grateful for Ian and Desiree because they actually took the initiative and submitted our float application as soon as the OB Town Council started accepting submissions in late September. Plus, not only did Ian get our application in before the parade reached its 100 float capacity (usually by mid-November)... but he happened to be the first one to submit an application!
Once Ian had committed us, it was time to prepare! We decided to stick with the ocean theme and decorate a flatbed we borrowed from Desiree and Ernesto's parents (the same flatbed that's moved us twice in the past year!) with as many shades of blue, sea creatures and lights that we could find. I made mermaid skirts for Des, Michelle and myself. There were bubble machines and glow sticks galore. We even found a giant inflatable dolphin that we named Donnie.
This past Saturday, on the day of the parade, everyone met at our house before noon to finish some of the costumes and float preparations and then we moved the float to our designated staging area by 3pm to get the band's equipment set up so that Ian, Jason and Jeff could perform their ambient tunes live from the float while we drove.
While Bonnie poured us some special coffees for the float, we cut our mermaid fins out of pizza boxes. Soon enough, we were all set up and ready to begin!
As we tuned onto Newport and officially joined the parade, I was blown away by how many people there were. Not going to lie: it was a little intimidating to have so many eyes and cameras on us. Besides it was the first time most of us had ever been in a parade! Ryan was driving in the front with Ernesto riding shotgun, and as we started to wave and hand out candy, the band began their set.
The parade ends soon after the OB Christmas Tree, which I just found out is actually a locally sourced pine that we stick in the beach at the end of Newport every year. I didn't think we had enough pine trees in OB to pull this off year after year, but apparently we do!
As we rounded the corner and exited the parade, I couldn't believe how quickly it had gone. All said and done, we were probably in the parade for no more than 45 hilarious minutes. Exhausted from all the prep and excitement, Ryan hightailed it out of there, with all of us sitting or dancing on the float through the streets of OB until we got back to our house.
Being in the OB Holiday Parade with a few of the people I love the most was by far my favorite holiday memory in San Diego so far. If you ever have a chance to make a random parade float with some of your best friends, do it. And if that parade just so happens to be the OB Holiday Parade, I can happily say that I'll be there to cheer you on! Because attending this parade is one holiday tradition that is definitely going to continue.