Its 10:00 A.M. in Downtown Los Altos and the sidewalks are full of chairs, tarps, tape and sidewalk chalk. Has the Occupy movement hit Los Altos? No, residents have begun the annual tradition of staking claim to downtown sidewalks in anticipation of the 6:00 p.m. start of the 35th Festival of Lights parade.
Since 1977, the Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade has drawn thousands of people to downtown Los Altos. Originally created by a few downtown merchants to promote good will and holiday spirit, the parade has grown into one of the most popular and largest family friendly events in the area.
In the morning, parade goers “reserve” their viewing spots by placing chairs, blankets and/or using sidewalk chalk to “stake” their favorite viewing location. Note: viewing guidelines request that parade goers reserve spots no earlier than noon, but enforcement has been lax. By 5:00 p.m. the downtown streets are bustling with people going back and forth with kids in tow and food/drinks in hand. By 5:45 p.m. most of the downtown sidewalks are 2-3 deep and the crowds have begun to settled in. This year, approximately 16,000 parade goers are expected. The parade route is shown below.
My suggestion to those who have never come is: (1) come early and eat downtown, (2) dress warm and bring umbrella, (3) bring a blanket, (4) bring a camera, (5) bring a chair or stool, (6) relax and enjoy – it is only about an hour long!
Below is a 3 minute video showcasing some of the 60 parade entrants and approximately 25 illuminated floats from last year’s Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade. This year’s parade will have a new facelift courtesy of the Los Altos Boy Scouts – Troop 37.
2012 Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade Route
View 2012 Festival of Lights Parade in a larger map