Band leaders marched, classic cars rumbled and grand marshalls showed off their best princess wave while ascending Myrtle Avenue for the city's annual Holiday Parade Thursday night.
The festivities kicked off with a tree lighting ceremony at Library Park, where Mayor Mary Ann Lutz--with the aid of a mayor's little helper--flipped a giant novelty switch and triggered hundreds of lights to sparkle in the tree that towers over the corner of Myrtle and Palm Avenue.
Shortly thereafter, two full-grown elves carrying the introductory banner-- the first of more than a hundred entries--marched up Myrtle to signal that the parade was off and running.
After the City Council motored by while perched in classic cars, the parade's Grand Marshals, local teen volunteers Alex Villa and Lauren Velasquez, waved to onlookers from a 1965 convertible Chevrolet Chevelle.
The teens, who hold leadership positions with the Monrovia Teen Advisory Board and Youth Commission, said before the parade that they were "excited and nervous."
"Especially because everybody is going to be watching us," Villa said. "But at least we have this beautiful car."
A wide assortment of entries followed the young guests of honor, including six bands, more than 50 walking entries and dozens of classic cars.
Monrovia's schools, Boys and Girls Scout troops, businesses, and government agencies were all represented, as well as entries from neighboring cities.
The event was emceed by Monrovia Neighborhood Services Coordinator Dan McConnell and Old Town Advisory Board member Lisa Magno, who alerted the crowd to coming attractions while riffing on each entry that passed by via loudspeakers. They each remarked at the sizable turnout.
"Every year I'm amazed at how many more people there are than the year before," Magno said.
"This is a tremendous holiday parade and tremendous holiday spirit," McConnell added.
The final entry was Santa on a giant sleigh pulled by a truck. Attendees quickly packed their things and departed, though the response to the festivities was roundly positive.
Steve Krotzer, who's lived in the city for 33 years, said he notices more people attend the parade every year.
"I thought it was great, very entertaining," he said.
And local resident Lydia Gerhard said had a great time watching her granddaughter march in the parade.
"I love it here," Gerhard said. "It's a wonderful place to live."
Janis Gertenberg, 78, watched the festivities while sitting in a folding chair and wrapped in a blanket during the chilly evening. She said she was happy to see so many young people out for the parade.
"It's so wonderful to see so many families involved," Gertenberg said. "It just really lifts my heart up."