CALIPATRIA — Hundreds of friends and families could be seen smiling and laughing as the city celebrated its eighth annual Christmas in the Dark on Saturday evening.
The event, coordinated by the city of Calipatria and the Chamber of Commerce, drew many out-of-towners.
Brawley resident Norma Ruiz said it was her first time to come to the event Saturday and contentedly watched as one of her four children had her face painted by a brightly colored clown at the event.
“It’s really nice to see the community together,” she said. “We’re hoping the parade is good too.”
Crowds filled Rademacher Park as visitors tried everything from sweets to tamales to kettle corn, listened to music, jumped in a bounce house or shopped for Christmas gifts before the parade began.
Many enjoyed steaming bowls of menudo or hot chocolate as the cool-weathered but festive night continued.
Crowds began eagerly lining the street in anticipation of the parade, which featured 16 entries with participants including the Niland Chamber of Commerce, area school cheerleaders and drum lines as well as local motorcycle groups.
Crowds of children excitedly waved to Santa as he passed by atop a Calipatria fire engine.
“The important thing is the community has come out to support the event, coordinating and collaborating with each other,” Mayor Pro Tem and event coordinator Maria Nava-Froelich said. “Christmas in the Dark is all about the Christmas, the birth of Jesus. The holiday is about getting the family together and getting to know your neighbor better.”
It was also an opportunity to promote the city’s first Citrus Festival which will be coming Jan. 25-27, she added.
“There’s not a lot to do in Calipatria so we’re just happy there’s something for the whole family,” she said.
A long line quickly formed for the free toy giveaway that followed the parade with roughly 300 toys given to local children.
“It’s good, quite a bit of people here, and it’s all about enjoying the holiday season,” Mayor Raul Navarro said. “We have a small-town feel so when we get together it’s more of a time to unite and give back to the community.”
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