Palo Alto gets ultimate birthday party at May Fête Parade

Community marks city milestone in high spirits

The Bowman School marching band entertains spectators of the May Fête Parade on University Avenue in Palo Alto on May 4, 2019. Photo by Jenny Rodriguez.

From birthday cake floats to colorful balloons to party hats, the Palo Alto community cheerfully celebrated the city's 125th anniversary at Saturday's May Fête Parade downtown.

This year's theme, "Happy 125th Birthday Palo Alto," marked 125 years since the city's incorporation. The Palo Alto Historical Association served as this year's parade grand marshal.

More than 55 groups that collectively added up to 2,200 people were signed up to walk in the parade, including community organizations, school groups and businesses, which featured decorated floats, live music and eye-catching costumes.

The popular children's event kicked off at 10 a.m. Participants marched on University Avenue beginning at Emerson Street, then went down to Waverley Street where they turned right and concluded at Heritage Park.

The parade, a Palo Alto tradition held every May, began in the early 1920s when it was first sponsored by the Community Center Commission as a city event, according to the parade website. The event gives children an opportunity to march down with their pets, some choosing to go down the route on their bicycles or with their wagons.

Local groups are also frequent participants, proudly showcasing their homemade floats for a chance at cash prizes. At the end of the day, the Godoy Family walked away with the top $500 prize, followed by $250 for second-place winner Our School. Addison Elementary School, the third-place winner that won $125, had a school bus float filled with several colored pictures of birthday greetings, recycling signs and bike lanes, a tribute to the city's identity as a bike-friendly community.

Police Chief Robert Jonsen was one of many community members at the parade who recognized "Star Wars" Day, an unofficial holiday that coincided with Saturday's event. Many fans of the film franchise can be heard greeting one another with "May the fourth be with you," a spin on a memorable line from the popular movie franchise: "May the Force be with you."

Jonsen, who revealed last year that he was cast as an Imperial Stormtrooper in the franchise's third film, "Return of the Jedi," showed off his socks printed with images of the character in a video posted Saturday on the Police Department's Twitter account. Palo Alto High School's Pep Band also marked the occasion by entertaining crowds with the film franchise's theme song.

Several parade participants and spectators attended a fair at Heritage Park hosted by the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club once the parade concluded.

See more photos and videos posted on social media by the Palo Alto Weekly and community members on our Wakelet page.


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4 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on May 5, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Great Parade, The Car show at the Heritage park was very cool.
Local School Bands did a great Job.
Only weird thing about it was they charged you a $5.00 plate rental fee for food at the Food Trucks..

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 5, 2019 at 11:44 pm

^ I believe the plate rental fee was a sustainability service offered by "GO Box".
Venturing out of their Portland experiment, running a couple years now.
I understand the $5 was refunded when you turned in the reusable to-go box.
To be professionally washed and reused by another customer.

Maybe someone (Bob Wenzlau?) could clue us all in what's going on here.
How soon will Palo Alto mandate reusables for all restaurant take-out in our city?
You'll need to carry a smartphone with a monthly subscription to the app.
No more trash bins full of greasy pizza boxes and plastic clamshells.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2019 at 2:36 am

I quite like the idea of deposits for plates and coffee cups at restaurants. I have never liked the idea of producing trash at the level which seems normal at Starbucks and similar places. I suppose that being asked for a deposit for the first time is a bit of a shock to the system particularly if you don't have the extra cash at the time. The idea of always carrying a reusable coffee cup and remembering to wash it at home, not the Starbucks restroom, has little appeal to me.

Decent plates and coffee cups, forks, etc. offered at all restaurants should be cheered, I think. A great move.

Like this comment
Posted by Cc
a resident of Downtown North
on May 6, 2019 at 1:56 pm

You could always bring your own!

Zero-waste is in. Wastefulness is out.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 15, 2019 at 12:28 pm

While this article is already ancient history, the comment thread is worth revisiting as a new "Foodware Ordinance" will be under consideration tentatively at the June 10th City Council Meeting. Looks like a total ban on plastic is in the offing. -- Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2019 at 2:56 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Do They Still Have The Pet Parade?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 15, 2019 at 10:07 pm

I haven't been to one of these Palo Alto May celebrations in decades. Do they still have the parade down University where kids can walk with their pets?

Back in the late 50s they wouldn't let me participate with my pet chimpanzee for fear he would get loose and then in the early 60s I couldn't take part in the pet parade because I wanted to bring my boa constrictor. As a result, I gradually lost interest in the parade.

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