The Starlight Parade may be returning to western Chula Vista. For many years, thousands of families lined the sidewalks of Third Avenue waiting for Santa Claus to arrive; however, when economic times got tough, the parade was de-funded.
At the June 17 Chula Vista City Council meeting, the parade subcommittee (councilmembers Patricia Aguilar and Rudy Ramirez) secured a promise of $15,000 seed money to bring the parade back — but not without some surprising resistance.
Third Avenue is western Chula Vista’s main drag. Like a classy Cadillac in a side yard, the street is waiting to be restored to its former beauty and vitality. In the past two years, approximately $6 million was spent revamping a portion of Third Avenue’s streetscape.
At the June 17 meeting, councilmember Pamela Bensoussan was reticent to support
the return of the parade because she has heard from some members of the Third
Avenue Village Association (TAVA) that the parade “was not an event that was good for the village” and that TAVA members feared parade-goers would trample the new streetscape.
Councilmember Aguilar responded, “I find that ironic because here [the city] did all this beautiful landscaping and hardscaping to make Third Avenue a people place, but we can’t have people there.”
The stated mission of the Third Avenue Village Association is “to create, promote, and champion a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly destination leading to increased sales, property values and community pride.”
This conversation on the dais also prompted a comment from councilmember Mary Salas. She said a recent forum at the library demonstrated that “People are craving events that build community.” Salas lamented the loss of the vintage car show, which used to be held on Third Avenue every Thursday in the summer months. Salas challenged the Third Avenue group and the chamber of commerce “to get on the ball” and do some community building.
Aguilar went on to suggest that perhaps the city might guarantee the landscape and hardscape, or she suggested the parade might go down F Street, only crossing an intersection of Third Avenue.
Ramirez said that it is important to organize the event so it assists the merchants on Third Avenue, but he also said the parade is about “families, kids, and civic pride.”
In the end, Aguilar and Ramirez got the $15,000 seed money with the proviso they raise matching funds. The funding will be used, in part, to hire a professional event organizer.
Both Aguilar and Ramirez felt there would be no problem raising the funds; Ramirez said the parade could happen this December.