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54th Parade of Champions Beats the Heat

Another year, another successful Parade of Champions. Thousands of people braved the heat and lined Monroe Street in Santa Clara on Oct. 7 to enjoy the 54th Parade of Champions.

This year featured some newcomers and some new events. The American Legion Post 419 held a pancake/French toast breakfast fundraiser for the first time before the main event.

Meanwhile, the Magical Bridge Foundation joined this year’s festivities for the first time, helping to get the word out about its all-inclusive playground currently in construction at Central Park.


“Team Magical Bridge, supporters and Kindness Ambassadors braved the heat to share our excitement about the upcoming Central Park Magical Bridge, under construction now,” said Olenka Villarreal, the Founder and CEO of the Magical Bridge Foundation.

“Due to open mid next year, we loved getting shout-outs from the crowd about us being part of the Santa Clara community,” continued Villarreal. “We were extra thrilled when Mayor [Lisa] Gillmor and Council Member Kathy Watanabe popped out of the spectator group for a quick hello and hug. We are thrilled to be part of this truly magical and welcoming community!”

The Magical Bridge Foundation also had a booth within the Community Village where the organization’s Curator of Community Kindness, Harriet, modeled kind behavior and ran craft projects for kids.

As for the rest of the parade, this year, the Santa Clara Swim Center received the place of honor behind former team member and Parade of Champions Grand Marshal, Donna de Varona.

Other Grand Marshals for the 54th Parade of Champions included Krazy George as well as Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy.

Honored guest Chris Carver was joined by a large contingent of Santa Clara Artistic Swimming Club swimmers. Carver rode in a car in front of the group, with the swimmers performing behind her.

There was a brief scare when the National Anthem singer, Dorothy, fell off her horse, Captain Kismet. According to a Facebook update by parade organizer Ana-Vargas Smith, Captain Kismet “had a moment” near the parade and the singer fell off. She is reportedly okay and back home and recovering. Captain Kismet is back at the family ranch.

Following the parade, the public was invited to dance in the streets with Salsa by Salson. DJ Macala, who served as the DJ for the parade as well, played the music while Marianela Calonje Amarante of Volare Studios led the dancing.

It was a full day of events.

Next year’s Parade of Champions is already in the works. Smith says as is tradition, it will be on the first Saturday of October.

Save the date, it’s Oct. 5, 2024.


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