By Angela Crawford
Special to the Sparks Tribune
Christmas music, Santa hats, and holiday cheer were in full effect this past weekend in the downtown Victorian Square, as the Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration kicked off. This year was the 31st anniversary of this special tradition and the last time that beloved Sparks Mayor Geno Martini will be participating as active mayor.
The festivities began on Friday, Dec. 1, with the annual tree-lighting ceremony. A large crowd gathered around the living Christmas tree, a giant blue spruce, and cheered when Mayor Martini flipped the switch. The lighting occurred around 6:30 pm, but people appeared much earlier than that to participate in the different raffles, entertainment and treats being given away.
The tree will remain lit up for the remainder of the holiday season.
The following day, Victorian Square once again filled up with people lined up along both sides of the street eager to see the Christmas parade. The square was reverberating with the sound of Christmas music, children laughing and horses clopping down the street.
“We love coming to the parade, we’ve been coming for over 20 years because it’s such a great sense of community,” says John and Karen Stancil, Sparks locals and longtime attendees of the parade. “It has such a hometown feel and is the perfect way to start the holiday season,” Stancil adds.
The parade route traveled from east to west on Victorian Avenue from Pyramid to 16th street and began at 1 p.m. Police officers and volunteers moved quickly and safely to shut down the street from vehicle traffic and controlled the flow of event attendees exceedingly well.
“It’s great that the community can gather like this and have a common celebration, we want everyone to have a good time and just enjoy themselves,” said Cassidy Santos an employee of the City of Sparks and event volunteer. “I’ve always had fond memories of the parade, I especially like the Vets involved because this whole event wouldn’t be possible without them,” adds Santos.
The parade had an assortment of participants, including the Girl Scouts, Sparks City Council members, Santa and many more.
Martini was the grand marshal of the event and was all smiles as he waved to the crowd while sitting in the new luxurious Tesla Model 3, courtesy of Tesla Motors.
“This weekend was truly magical, beginning with the city of Sparks Christmas tree lighting on Friday night and then the parade on Saturday. As this is my last year in office, I’m so thankful to have been chosen as the Grand Marshal of the parade. There were so many great floats, people, and even a dancing Tesla! It was such a blessing to see so many people come out for the festivities. Merry Christmas everyone!” said Martini.