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Santa Paula Holiday Parade
November 26, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm PST
Santa Paula Holiday Parade First to Feature Deaf Santa Claus
The 72nd running of the Santa Paula Holiday Parade will be headlined by Deaf Santa Claus, who is traveling directly from the North Pole to participate in the holiday festivities. This year’s parade theme is “A Celebration for All.” This year’s Grand Marshal will be David Gillette.
Organized by John Marquez, the executive director of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Paula Holiday parade always has Santa Claus as the grand finale. “We couldn’t imagine hosting our Holiday parade without Santa Claus. When we learned that Santa Claus is now Deaf, we didn’t think any less of his ability to inspire the thousands of people who turn out to our Holiday parade. In fact, we thought the opposite, our parade is the perfect showcase for his abilities. We are excited to bring our community together for this great event on Small Business Saturday and to honor all the wonderful businesses and restaurants that make our historic downtown Santa Paula vibrant. Be sure to stop by to shop and eat in Santa Paula before and after the parade”.
It appears likely that the Santa Paula Holiday parade is the first parade anywhere in the country – if not the world – to feature a Santa Claus with a disability. “Inclusion is a core value of our city and what better way to demonstrate the ability to do anything you set your mind to, in spite of different abilities than to have Deaf Santa Claus carry this message? Of course, Deaf Santa Claus is worthy of representing our city in our parade,” explains Marquez. More than 80% of the Santa Paula population is Hispanic, many of whom raise their children to be bilingual, just as Deaf Santa Claus has with his own daughter.
Over 2% of the population is deaf or hard of hearing and American Sign Language (ASL) is the 3rd most studied language in the United States, behind Spanish and French. A bilingual Santa Claus has tremendous benefits to all, not just for Deaf children or those who know ASL. Deaf Santa Claus is represented by Anthony Mowl, who is the father of a 5th generation Deaf daughter and had the opportunity to meet Deaf Santa Claus during Christmas of 2021. “Growing up, there was always something magical about meeting Santa Claus, and my parents always made sure to take me and my brother and sister to go meet Santa Claus each year,” explains Anthony. “Many times when we met Santa Claus, we had limited interactions because Santa Claus himself did not know ASL. For the first few years of her life, my daughter had a similar experience to mine, which is different compared to kids who are hearing. I’ve met Santa Claus dozens of times, but the first time I had a conversation with him in ASL was the most special Christmas memory of my life. Every child deserves to visit with Santa Claus in the same way they see themselves; every person should feel worthy for who they are.”
Deaf Santa Claus is looking forward to coming to Santa Paula this holiday season. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to meet millions of children each year, and it’s inspiring to know that the city of Santa Paula recognizes the value of being able to connect directly with someone in their native language. Too many children are not seen for who they are and aspire to be, and this is the connection I strive to make with every individual I meet. What each of us can do – Santa Claus or not – is make that person feel seen and valued. Santa Paula is doing their part in creating a new kind of Christmas miracle.”
The Santa Paula Holiday parade is scheduled to take place on November 26th, the Saturday after the Thanksgiving Holiday in downtown Santa Paula (869 E Main Street). The parade will start at approximately 6:30pm and is free to all. Shopping, food and other family friendly activities will be available in downtown Santa Paula to help kick off the holiday season.