CALEXICO — Local farmworkers who gather here will receive a welcoming surprise just before they leave to work Friday morning.
A drive-by parade will be taking place at 3:15 a.m. The parade will stop by various hotspots in the downtown area of the city where farmworkers are known to collect before heading off to work.
Local residents George Miranda and Bertha Carreno organized the event as a way for Imperial Valley residents to gather and show their gratitude to local farmworkers..
The organizers imagined the event after seeing how other local essential workers were being celebrated for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet farmworkers were receiving no praise.
The parade is open to the public. Those interested in participating are welcome to do so. No sign-up is needed.
The gathering point for vehicles will be at Fifth and Mary streets here in front of the Calexico Police Department. The parade will promptly begin at 3:15 a.m.
Participants must stay in their vehicle at all times, and picking up people along the route is not allowed.
Stopping during the parade is not permitted, either. Participants are being asked to practice social distancing (no personal contact) and to wear a face mask.
Those interested in decorating their vehicle may do so. The parade’s route is approximately 2.2 miles.
Depending on the number of participants, the time it takes to complete the route may take up to 45 minutes.
The parade will begin at CPD, run through various streets and conclude at O’Reilly Auto Parts on Imperial Avenue.
Along with honks and cheers, goodie bags will be given to workers during the event.
About 800 bags, which contain nutrition bars, water bottles, face masks and informational pamphlets on how to protect oneself during the pandemic, will be distributed.
All items in the bags are donations from local agencies and organizations. On Wednesday, Dr. Tien Vo of Vo Medical Center donated 800 vouchers for free physical exams to be included in the bags.
The parade is not affiliated with any political party or religion.
On April 26, Miranda posted on his Facebook page that a drive-by parade for farmworkers took place in San Diego.
Carreno commented on the post, “When are we going to do one here? We have lots of farm workers.”
Miranda and Carreno, who already knew each other because of their professions at local school districts, began brainstorming.
Within a matter of two weeks, the two had garnered plenty of local support to move forward — enough to form the IV Car Parade Committee and get the county Public Health Department as a partnering agency.
They were even able to get CPD Chief Gonzalo Gerardo to be a committee member.
“When I spoke to him, he was on board immediately and supporting us,” Miranda said.
It was initially planned to have the parade run past the fields where the laborers would be working.
Instead, it was decided more workers will be reached if the parade is done in the downtown area before they start their day.
When asked about how many participants they’re expecting, neither Miranda nor Carreno could give a certain answer.
“We had a lot of response,” Miranda said. “But it’s going to be interesting to see how many people will get up at 3 a.m.”
A map of the parade route can be found on the committee’s Facebook page: IV Farm Workers-Trabajadores del Campo del Valle Imperial.