Tiny aliens are expected to invade downtown Palo Alto on Saturday.
The invasion, also known as the 93rd annual City of Palo Alto May Fete Children's Parade, will take over University Avenue and surrounding blocks from 10 a.m. to noon.
This year's theme, "No Space to Alienate," is both a play on outer space and a call for kids to be themselves and welcome the uniqueness of others, according to parade organizers. Instead of flying saucers, "UFO" stands for "be Unique, be Free, be yOu."
"We decided that space is something kids love, and we thought that would be a great theme to pull people together," said Ali Williams of the City of Palo Alto. "You may say somebody across the street or town could never be your friend. ... But wow, you never know: Someone from outer space may become your best friend in the world."
The grand marshall of the May Fete Parade will be Magaly Gonzalez Sipperley, a propulsion engineer at Space Systems Loral (SSL) in Palo Alto, which builds commercial satellites for companies like DIRECTV and Google's Skybox Imaging.
This year, SSL employees worked with Addison Elementary School students and taught them about satellites and space materials to encourage an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, Williams said.
Mayor Karen Holman will escort Palo Alto Perry, a 3-foot-tall stuffed donkey and the city's newest ambassador, down University in the parade. The mascot is part of a new two-month social-media campaign in which people throughout the city will "host" Perry, taking pictures of him at neighborhood landmarks and leaving notes in his saddlebag detailing what they love about the city.
In addition to the classic categories of paraders -- kids with wheels, kids with flags, kids with pets -- the city's high school robotics teams will be participating in the parade, as will anti-bullying groups such as Gunn High School's "Not In Our Schools." Williams said that the message of inclusion, which is an equal part of this year's parade theme of acceptance of self and others, originated last year with former Mayor Nancy Shepherd.
"I'm excited to see groups in middle and high schools taking the theme and using it," Williams said, citing additional clubs, including the nonprofit Youth Community Service (YCS), that are expected to be among the nearly 90 groups in the parade.
Paired with the annual procession will be a May Fete Fair in Heritage Park at 300 Homer Ave. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Organized by the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Palo alto, the fair will include children's activities, performances, food, picnicking and more. The Museum of American Heritage, located across Homer from Heritage Park, will be hosting its Vintage Vehicle and Family Festival from 9:30 a.m . to 2 p.m.
Some downtown streets will be closed on Saturday morning in preparation for the parade. Beginning at 7:30 a.m. and lasting until about noon, University will be closed between High Street to Webster Street; Webster Street will be closed between University and Homer; and Homer will be closed between Webster Street and Bryant Street, according to the Palo Alto Police Department.
Roads will re-open as the parade passes, but the 300 block of Homer (between Waverley and Bryant Streets) will be closed until about 3 p.m. for the fair.
Information is posted at pamayfetefair.com.