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Keeping it local
by Garrett Valenzuela
Dec 08, 2012 | 5466 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Santa Claus kept children and parents anticipating his arrival in the Sparks Hometowne Christmas parade Saturday afternoon on Victorian Avenue. Santa was the final float to ring in the holiday season.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Santa Claus kept children and parents anticipating his arrival in the Sparks Hometowne Christmas parade Saturday afternoon on Victorian Avenue. Santa was the final float to ring in the holiday season.
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SPARKS -- More than 200 entries to the Sparks Hometowne Christmas parade had local residents with their arms draped over the guardrails and craning their necks from elevated cement on Victorian Square Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of people witnessed one of the longest standing traditions in the city of Sparks, many of whom were no strangers to the parade on Victorian Avenue. Marcia Frugoli, owner of W.R. Adams & Son, said the Hometowne Christmas is always a sight to see during the holiday season and rivals other events in downtown Sparks.

“I think the best event they have down here is the Hometowne Christmas because it is all local people,” Frugoli said. “Other events like the rib cook-off and things like that will attract tourists but this event is all about local people.”

The Hometowne Christmas parade saw local boy and girl scout troops, middle and high school marching bands and many creative snowman-themed floats from local businesses and organizations. And, not to be forgotten, some classic cars courtesy of Hot August Nights enthusiasts brought some shine to the winter season.

Hot August Nights has been a supporter of the Hometowne Christmas for several years and this year its crews were manning the parade lineup, managing crosswalks on Victorian Avenue and walking through the parade tossing out candy. Hot August Nights Executive Director Tony Marini said the classic cars add a secret ingredient to the parade.

“This parade is definitely unique because you get to see some hot rods in the winter time,” he said prior to the event. ““The parade is a staple of Sparks. It helps kick off the Christmas weekend for families and the kids really get into it with Santa being there. There is a little bit of everything for everybody and it is definitely a breath of fresh air during the holiday season.”

Frugoli said she has witnessed the people lining the streets more than once and loves to have the local families visit her shop downtown. She said the parade’s best attribute is being filled with locals and that it is put on for locals.

“It has local organizations, school children and I think it is a great deal because it is their parade. It is not something fancy that is manufactured some place,” she said.

Local radio personalities were on hand to narrate the march of each group and float, adding a little more local flavor to the mix. Unique floats kept things interesting, like the Reno Video Game Symphony belting out classic Nintendo tunes dressed in costume, and groups such as the SPCA bringing their best snowman costumes and dances down the long runway.

Francine Burge, special events coordinator for the City of Sparks, said though she is new to planning the Hometowne Christmas she feels it is a great chance for the city to display the tight-knit family it resembles.

“I think the reason we continue to do the Hometowne Christmas is in the name. It emulates a small, home-town parade that not everybody does but they are great fun because they are family friendly,” she said. “We had more floats this year so it is great to see the creativity and much larger floats than before so it’s a pretty big parade.”

Santa Claus provided the final waves to the crowd as all the entries finished the march or drive from Pyramid Way to 14th Street. The downtown area cleared out except for the final pieces of candy lying on Victorian Avenue. It is safe to say locals will continue arriving in flocks for future Sparks Hometowne Christmas events because, as Burge said, “it ties back to the whole hometowne thing and people love it (downtown).”
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