Last night the small, rural town of Hollister, California had its Christmas Parade, “Lights on Parade.” It is the official opening of the Christmas season in Hollister. Townsfolk bring folding chairs and blankets and line the street three deep on both sides to watch the parade. Local businesses and organizations build floats decked with Christmas lights and parade through the main thoroughfare. The Christmas lights of the town are turned on and all is merry and bright.
Hollister is a very small town and that’s what makes it special. Parade floats are amateurish, built onto long trailers and pulled by trucks. People sit in them and wave or sing Christmas caroles. There was one from the Hollister High sophomore class, one from the local Methodist Church, one from my wife’s Hip-Hop Dance Club, and 46 more. That includes the local Sheriff’s Department, parading in white squad cars with flashing lights.
My wife took part in the parade by riding in the backseat of a 1961 Chevy Impala. Her younger Hip-Hoppers rode in a float waving to the crowd.
It was corny. It was small-town. It was delightful. It made me glad to live in Hollister where people enjoy each other and don’t take themselves too seriously.
Later, at the Town Hall, several local studios put on a demonstration by their students. There was a tumbling school and some dazzling acrobatics by the young students; there was a ballet school where a dozen or so young ladies, ages 2 to 4, waved their arms and bobbed up and down to Christmas music while trying to remember their routines. Finally, there was my wife’s Hip-Hop school where young people dance Hip-Hop style to Hip-Hop music. My wife joined for the exercise but really got into it. She danced with the adult faction. I was surprised to learn that she is pretty good. If I had one suggestion for her it would be: do it with a little more attitude. You gotta think you’re good before you can make others believe it too.
The lady who started the Hip-Hop dance school is a Hispanic lady who once weighed well over 200 pounds. She started dancing Hip-Hop to take off the pounds and is now lean and tough. She’s also very nice – she won’t play any music that has profanity and won’t tolerate it from her students. She is anti-gang and pro-responsibility and she’s having a very positive effect on the lives of her young charges. Her name is Isabel Torres and the name of her dance studio is Waves of Illusion.
I work in Silicon Valley – “where the future lives.” But I live in Hollister, where one might say “the past lives.” The past of small towns, farms, fruit stands, family-owned local businesses and small stores where you can still buy Coca-Cola in bottles. It’s a nice place to esape to.