Holiday parade hitches on tree lighting

Procession includes floats, bands, hot rods, horses
By: Lien Hoang, The Press Tribune
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UPDATE, Friday, 1:10 p.m.:

For the first time in 49 years, rain will likely cancel the parade portion of Saturday's holiday festivities, the City of Roseville said Friday. Officials will make a final call at about 8 a.m. Saturday, but everything else - vendors, the tavern, soup-tasting and Santa - will commence at 5 p.m. The tree lighting is still on for 6:30 p.m., unless safety concerns arise. forecast an 80 percent chance of rain Saturday. For updates, see the City's website here.

This would have been the first year ever that Roseville residents could go straight from the city’s downtown parade to the Christmas tree lighting on the same day.

Saturday would have marked the 49th annual Sylvia Besana Holiday Parade, from 3-5 p.m., followed by the lighting ceremony at 6:30.

“The two events are going to meld easily,” said Jamie Carlson, the city’s point person for the festivities, which are a collaboration among the City of Roseville, the Chamber of Commerce and the Press Tribune. 

Carlson said the merger is a response to requests, particularly from businesses that didn’t want spectators to go straight home after the procession. The gap between the two main attractions leaves room to patronize shops, restaurants and a tavern, watch merry movies, decorate cookies and ornaments and – new this year – join in a soup-tasting.

“The only vendors we let in have to have things we consider gifts,” event coordinator John Javidan said of the holiday shopping that will be available.

Vernon Street will close at noon Saturday to make way for preparations. Floats, school bands, hot rods, horses and other paraders will begin at the intersection of Vernon, Riverside Avenue and Douglas Boulevard, march east along Vernon, turn right at Folsom Road and end behind Roseville Square.

Businesses and organizations compose the bulk of paraders, who range from employees demonstrating gym workouts to last year’s winner, an oversized gingerbread house. There are even some Thanksgiving-themed participants, which brings up the question: why have a Christmas parade the Saturday before Thanksgiving?

“By having this early, we don’t compete with other communities,” Carlson said.

It’s tradition, one reinforced under the late Besana, a long-time parade planner. The chamber voted to name the celebration in her honor last year.

“When Sylvia Besana gave you an assignment, you wanted to do it,” Carlson said of working with “Roseville’s parade guru.”

As vendors sell everything from kettle corn to handmade earrings, paraders will compete to win awards for creativity in different categories. The entry deadline has passed but don’t worry – many register the day of.

Santa will emerge to help light the tree at 316 Vernon St. across from the Civic Center, against the backdrop of a barbershop quartet and a children’s choir. The merrymaking should end by 8 p.m. – but that all depends on how many want to sit on Santa’s lap.

“Bless Santa’s heart, he never turns people away who want to see him,” Carlson said.

Lien Hoang can be reached at

WHAT: 49th annual Sylvia Besana Holiday Parade and tree lighting (tentative)
WHEN: 3-8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Vernon Street