By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
A few raindrops couldn't keep about 10,000 people from lining downtown Sonora's Washington Street on Friday night, as Model As, dancing girls and the Sonora High School Golden Regiment Band rolled, twirled and marched by in the 20th annual Historic Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade.
Storm clouds held off for the hour-long procession, and spectators sat on truck beds, folding chairs or stools in streetside taverns to watch. Gray-haired women donned glow-stick necklaces to match their grandkids'. Small dogs in striped sweaters or pooch-sized fire coats skittered down the sidewalk. Bigger canines lounged on tailgates or blankets, looking up occasionally to sniff someone walking by.
The 66-entry parade stepped off at 5:30 sharp from North Washington and Snell streets. Antique fire engines, the side-saddling Shady Ladies of the Mother Lode and Santa Claus, the parade's much-anticipated final entry, all had their time in the streetlights.
Judy Blum of Castro Valley said she, her son, and her two godchildren crossed the state Friday morning to take in their first Christmas parade of the season. Blum said that every December, her clan travels a parade circuit, watching processions from Lodi to Auburn, with stops in between.
"This is the longest one we've been to," Blum said. It was her first parade in Sonora, but she and the kids plan on returning.
Blum's son, Steven, 11, said the motorcycles were his favorite. Blum's godchild, Jonathan Rodriguez, 7, said he enjoyed the Boy Scouts, while his sister, Jennifer, 4, liked the dancers best.
Spectators weren't the only ones having a good time.
On the Christian Heights Church float, actors dressed in Victorian finery ate fresh-roasted chicken, said Gwen Cook, one of the float's participants. The diners feasted around a table in hopes of drawing a bigger audience to the church's upcoming Family Christmas Dinner Theater, playing Dec. 13 and 14. But Cook and her husband, Curt, reassured that one needn't wear a top hat or hoop skirt to attend.