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    Santa Claus gets a wave from a child as he takes in the Sacramento Santa Parade from a carriage.


    Summer Adams, 9, of the Sacramento Performing Arts group, adds to the festivities.

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Santa draws a crowd to downtown Sacramento for annual parade

Published: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 - 12:33 pm

Some came to see Santa. Others came for much-needed family togetherness. And some others came to work.

These describe some of the many thousands of individuals who lined the streets at the annual holiday coming-out party known as the Sacramento Santa Parade.

The Saturday morning parade began at City Hall just after 10 a.m. under a weak sun and winterlike temperatures. It ended three hours later with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus waving from an eggshell-colored horse-drawn carriage.

While there can be only one Santa at such an event – many are the factors that bring people to it.

Some, like Sacramentan Becky Aisner, came to work the festival. Her job was traveling up and down the crowded parade streets selling Christmas halos made of star-flecked wire garland and metallic streamers.

Aisner had five halos hanging from each arm, and the billowing streamers made her look as if she was some metallic fringe goddess.

The going rate for the halos: $3. She was not turning away hagglers. "I've sold 20 of these already," Aisner said. "They're like our version of Mardi Gras beads."

Others came to escape crisis and huddle with family, like Ohioan Joseph Hulme.

Recently moved to Sacramento from Ashland, Ohio, Hulme and his family were hoping the parade would put a warm shine on what has turned out to be a tough holiday season. After a foreclosure in Ohio, Hulme, his wife and granddaughter moved to Sacramento in a motor home.

"We needed to get as far West as possible," Hulme said.

But once here the motor home broke down and police eventually impounded it. Now his wife and daughter live in a women's shelter and Hulme in another, nearby.

"I'm hoping we can soon have Christmas in an apartment, or some place where we can be together," Hulme said.

"Going to an event like this helps make the holiday season feel a little easier – no matter what tough times you're going through."

Johnny Robinson rode a Harley K9 chopper to the parade to watch his grandchildren wait for Santa's appearance. Robinson was bedecked in leather biker chaps and silver bike helmet, and kept an eye on grandson Bruce Wells.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Santa," said the fresh-faced Wells, a sixth-grader at Woodlake Elementary. "Especially because I already have a couple of presents with my name under the Christmas tree."

Wheeled vehicles of a different kind figured big in the decision of Rancho Cordova resident Pele Garcia's decision to join the parade procession.

"My kids are part of the Girl Scouts and we're out here riding our bikes just trying to represent," Garcia said.

He was atop a $1,200 custom-made "reaper" cruiser made by noted bicycle maker Greg Roth. The three-speed black-framed bike offered a low and sleek profile, and Garcia outfitted it with a string of Christmas lights and garland.

His daughter, Abraham Lincoln Elementary fifth-grader Jasmin Garcia, was also on a custom reaper-style bike. This one was made by her father and sported spiraling metal detailing and a lush electric-purple banana seat.

Garcia said he made the bike so that his daughter would have something to ride at Second Saturday and to be able to ride it at events such as the Sacramento Santa parade.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Edward Ortiz

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