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Christmas comes alive in Wasco

In a display of community unity and holiday cheer, Wasco came alive with the vibrant colors and festive spirit of its annual Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony. The event saluted honored guests, including the new Wasco Police Department and the triumphant Wasco High School and Wasco Bengals football champions.

The streets were lined with eager families and enthusiastic spectators who eagerly awaited the procession of dazzling floats adorned with shimmering lights and intricate decorations. Over 70 vehicles, clubs and schools made their way through town.

Arturo Nunez represented WHS FFA. "We have almost 50 members passing out candy. Everybody is dressed in the holiday spirit. We are here trying to spread joy, to show that FFA cares, is invested in the community and that we are all proud to be Wasconians. We are all happy to be here."

Leila Alvarez came as part of the Palm Avenue Middle School/Thomas Jefferson Middle School marching band. "It's exciting to see all of the colorful and creative floats. I've been participating for the last three years, and each time, it's incredible."

"The best part is playing popular Christmas music for the crowd, plus I get to perform in front of my friends and neighbors. I like to put a smile on their faces."

Efrain Pimentel is a Wasco youth soccer club coach. He said he thought it was important to participate in the parade. "To get the kids involved in the community and let parents know we have a sport for their kids year-round."

"It's special because it's Christmas, bonding family time and overall, unity and friendship. We wanted to provide for Wasco. It's a tight-knit community, and we are trying to be a part of it and belong."

For WHS multimedia teacher Danny Eusebio, it was his first time. "It's a great feeling for me to be involved in building a float for a parade."

"It was a challenge in the beginning, but we came together in the last couple of days to put everything together. We were happy with the results."

The entry fee for the parade was a toy to benefit Toys for Tigers. Candy Wilson of the organization said, "It's awesome that the community would support us like that. We collect many toys that will go to our Wasco children."

After the parade, the crowd made their way back to the high school to enjoy a vendor fair and food trucks.

Next followed the highly anticipated tree lighting ceremony, which was also where the honored guests were celebrated. Miss Wasco Rose Queen Esmeralda Rodriguez presented the Christmas tree light countdown box to Chief Fivecoat and coaches Martinez and Rincon, who lit the tree.

Chief Charles Fivecoat said, "I was absolutely amazed at how many people were out there. It was just wonderful community support. As honored guests, I thought that it was so thoughtful and kind to consider us, and I didn't want to take anything away from the extraordinary performance of the football teams, especially the WHS team going to state. I think that's great."

Chad Martinez, WHS head varsity football coach, said of his team acknowledged for winning the Valley Championship and Regionals, "It was really cool. It seemed like the whole town of Wasco came to support us. It felt special because everybody was here, from kids to adults, taking pictures and having a good ol' time lighting the Christmas tree."

"I didn't expect this many people. The streets were lined up. It was standing room only. I felt extremely grateful to be honored."

JV Bengals Head Coach Omar Rincon added about the accomplishments of his players that were recognized at the event, "They have achieved something epic this season."

"This group of boys earned the title of GEYF (Golden Empire Youth Football) JV Champions, holding an undefeated record this season. We couldn't be more proud of this group of athletes' hard work and dedication."

"They did an amazing job representing Wasco and bringing a championship title back home after 17 years. Tonight, I feel love and support from the community, and without the support of our fans and parents, none of this would have been possible. I want to thank our coaching staff, the Wasco Bengals, and most importantly, our athletes."

Mayor Vincent Martinez said of the honored guests, "It's an incredible event. You can look at the number of people here. The community support is overwhelming. It's great to honor not only the city with the Christmas parade but the special achievements of our football programs and our newly formed police department as well."

The Wasco Rose Festival team, including Orquidea Ocampo, organized all the festivities. "We are very proud of the WHS Tiger football team and the Wasco Bengals. They are the true champions that brought everyone out," she said.

Sharon Sharp, another team member, said, "Adding the honored guest component this year was something that came out of the community excitement for our new police department and our champion teams."

She said about the Christmas activities, "This was our third year, and it gets bigger each time, which is one of our goals for it to grow. We are so grateful to Wasco High School administration and the board for allowing us to do this on campus and being able to do it in front of the historic auditorium makes it all the more special."

"And bringing in DJ Nonsense this year, who has been a part of the Rose Festival each year that we put it on, just added so much fun with his music."

"A big thank you to our sponsors, volunteers, vendors, parade participants and the community for attending this fantastic event."

This year's sponsors included the Wasco Rotary Club, Portwood Farms, Wasco Knights of Columbus, Democratic Women of Kern County, Holtermann Farms, State Farm, Kern Labor Contracting, Cindy Banducci and Wasco Car Wash.

"We will see you at the Rose Festival from September 5 through September 7, 2024," Sharp sai

 

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