Adversity brought the Santa Clara community together in a unique undertaking. More than 120 service organizations, nonprofits, businesses, schools and individual contributors, marched into history in Santa Clara’s 2020 Virtual Parade of Champions.
The celebration honored America’s and Santa Clara’s frontline and behind-the-scenes heroes who are keeping the community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also uplifted the spirits of participants and viewers and created community pride.
“The Parade of Champions is a showcase of Santa Clara Spirit,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
Parade emcee and Santa Clara native Taylor Amarante, sports announcer for the San Jose Earthquakes, welcomed a virtual community of about four thousand to the two-hour and 10-minute parade, launched on YouTube and live streamed on Facebook on Saturday, Oct. 10.
“This is a great production! Thank you Parade of Champions Team! City pride and joy abounds!” wrote Elise.
Snippets from the successful live 2019 parade were intermixed with the 2020 virtual parade presentations — testimonials from the Mayor and City Council Members, City workers, the superintendent of schools and others, along with dances and music.
Santa Clara and Wilcox High Schools, the College of Adaptive Arts, and Mission College, which has programs to train emergency responders, contributed. The Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps performed for the parade finale.
No hero went unappreciated. Tribute was paid to the obvious heroes — medical workers, firefighters, police officers, educators, and essential workers.
Tribute was also paid to heroes one might not otherwise have remembered.
The Retro Notes Jazz Band dedicated an original song to Dr. Li Wenliang, the late doctor from Wuhan, China, who first alerted the world to COVID-19.
“Thank you to all who work in the funeral industry. We are essential workers….,” wrote Frances in one of more than 400 live chat comments.
The award for Best Organization yard display went to JW House (www.JW.org) in Santa Clara, the charity partner of the SCPOC. It was earlier presented with a check for $5,000.
The People’s Choice Award went to Tressa Williams’s State Farm Agency. The Best Decorated Residence Award went to the Skeleton Crew Santa Clara.
“Ana [Vargas-Smith], what an outstanding parade. Your team knocked it out of the park. Congratulations!” wrote Mike.
Vargas-Smith is president of the Santa Clara Parade of Champions, an all-volunteer nonprofit created in 2019 to reinstate the parade after a hiatus of 24 years. She was recognized on Oct. 2 as a 2020 Community Hero by California State Assembly District 25 Assemblymember Kansen Chu.
“I am so very proud of how our community participated with enthusiasm and creativity — young and old and everyone in between. Their contribution to the parade came from their hearts,” said Vargas-Smith. “There were many moments that pulled at my heart strings.”
To view the virtual parade, visit https://www.scparadeofchampions.org/. The 2021 live Parade of Champions is scheduled for Oct. 9. It will include popular virtual features of the 2020 parade.