H-NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Dec 23, 2010 12:22 AM by Jeanette Trompeter

No Place Like Home: Holidays Central Coast Style


Central Coast Celebrations this time of year may not look like a Kodak Commercial. We don't have clydesdales prancing across new fallen snow to bring us a Budweiser, but we have plenty of holiday spirit none the less. "What are you going to do in the parade?" I ask an adorable young girl at the San Luis Obispo Parade. "I'm going to ride a bicycle!" she exclaims with glee.

Santa may be from the snowy North Pole, but he likes it here enough to take time to cruise down Paso Robles streets weeks before Christmas with a reminder for kids to be good. And he can't do parade appearances in convertables everywhere.

From Santa Barbara to Santa Maria to San Miguel, communities pull out all the stops, and plug in all the lights they can find this time of year. Snow or not, the holiday spirit is alive out west.

12-year-olds Ocean Taylor and Nate Mendez live in Los Osos but came to San Luis Obispo for the parade. They say riding their skate-boards in it makes the season bright for them. "I just really like Christmas because I get to be with my family and have the Christmas spirit, and me and my buddy Nate over here, we were skating through the parade with the gymnastics people."

Our annual treks through city streets may be a far cry from displays of Macy's magnitude in New York, but ours offer up something you can't find in the Big Apple. "You know people who are here. and you always recognize at least half of the floats, and everyone's got kids, and it's just a friendly place to be!" says Gillian McCallum, who escorted a group of hockey players down to the festivities in San Luis Obispo.

It's doubtful you can roll the family couch down Fifth Avenue for a comfy front row seat for the Macy's Day Parade. But that's what Tricia Harbour's husband Troy did. "He put it on two wooden dollies and just wheeled it on down the street!" The family just recently moved to San Luis Obispo and found it's Christmas Parade quite worth they're time and effort to get there. "One thing I really like about it is that it highlights all the local groups and organizations that I didn't even know were out there. And having kids, I was like 'Oh, they could do that! They could join that group!"

The Harbours join thousands of others who have found small town celebrations make some of the best holiday traditions anywhere. "Once you do a parade with a couch, it's hard to do a parade without a couch!" says Tricia.

And though the reasons for the season differ among us, we seem to be able to honor and respect those differences as well. Because wide-eyed wonder in the eyes of children, a little sparkle in the eyes of grown-ups who've weathered a tough year, and smiles and happy greetings of good will are something we can all celebrate.

There are some things that just warm your heart and seeing families and celebrations like the ones we enjoy on the Central Coast is is just one of them. They are heart-warming reminders There's No Place Like Home.

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