For over a quarter century, Chico’s Annual Parade of Lights has been illuminating our downtown streets. Every year, thousands gather to watch a steady stream of glittering, flashing entries bedecked in lights. The parade’s roots go back to 1918, when high school seniors were invited to view the Chico Normal School campus. Displays were built to depict the heritage of the campus within the community, and over the years, more activities were added. These activities culminated in a Pioneer Days Parade through downtown Chico. Pioneer Days and the Pioneer Parade were canceled by the City of Chico in 1988, but the following year, the mayor of Chico asked a few community members to bring back the parade tradition. The Chico Parade of Lights was born.
The night of the Parade is a night of community spirit and festive fun for the whole family! The evening starts with exciting pre-parade events, including bed races, tricycle races, wheelchair rugby, handcycle challenge, flash mobs, food trucks, and more. The Parade itself kicks off with the AmVet Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem; followed by honored guests, including the Grand Marshal, Senior Citizen of the Year, and Veteran of the Year. The Parade includes entries from businesses, organizations, groups, clubs and individuals, whose decorations all center around a unique theme each year. Judges are stationed throughout the parade route, and local radio stations from Deer Creek Broadcasting (Mix 95.1, 103.5 The Blaze, KPAY 1290 am, and Radio Mexico) announce entries as they make their way through downtown Chico. Other amazing sponsors who support the parade year after year include: KHSL 12, KNVR 24, CW, Action News Now, Telemundo, Chico Enterprise Record, KZFR, BCAC TV, Chico Noon Exchange, Build.com, Chico Lawyers, Azad’s Martial Arts Center, Stratti, Cal Water, Advanced Documents, DCBA, Chamber of Commerce, Rental Guys, North State Screenprint, Square Deal Mattress, Disability Action Center, Recology, Growing Up Chico, and more.
Community members rave every year about the fun they have at the parade. Judy Sitton, a previous Grand Marshal said, “There are so many things to love and be thankful for in Chico – its culture, beauty, education, relationships, and values. The Parade of Lights is an experience that celebrates these, and more.” One 8-year-old spectator summed it up with, “This is the coolest parade in the world!”
This year’s theme is “Magical Adventures in Books,” which can include children’s stories, young adult novels, classic literature, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, history, non-fiction, and even recipe books! The options are endless!
The 28th Annual Chico Parade of Lights will be held on October 7th at 7pm, in downtown Chico. A parade route map is available on the website. The Chico Parade of Lights board members plan all year long to bring a successful and fun event to downtown. The board members are: Farshad Azad, Becki Brunelli, Susan Krug, Brent Largent, Sheila Anderson, Marianne Scheiler, Samantha Willingham, Hilary Hassenzahl, Cap Porterfield, and Jared Spini. Hundreds of volunteers help out each year as well.
For more updates and information about how to register a parade entry or to participate in pre-parade events, visit the website at chicoparadeoflights.com, or the Chico Parade of Lights Facebook page. We also have numerous opportunities for sponsors and volunteers. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Azad’s Martial Arts at 530-892-2923 or
530-896-0777, if you would like to be a sponsor or volunteer, or have questions!
Photos courtesy of Philip Kustner (philipk.photo), Kimberly Weich (Blueberry Creek Photography), and Elizabeth Graham Photo.