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After three-year hiatus, May Fete Parade makes a comeback downtown

Much-missed event brings Palo Alto community together again

Downtown Palo Alto was bustling with activity on Saturday for the 98th annual May Fete Parade, an event that brought the community together under the theme "What emPowers you?"

The event kicked off at 10 a.m. with community members marching down University Avenue, a spectacle that hasn't taken place since 2019 when the parade last took place. Some children embraced the theme by donning their superhero capes and costumes at the event, which drew hundreds of people.

Locals lined up on the sidewalk to wave and cheer children and families. Some parade participants brought their pets to join the fun, others rode bicycles and scooters. The crowd also was treated to music by local students, including the Palo Alto High School band, Gunn High School Instrumental Music band and fifth grade students from the Palo Alto Unified School District.

There also were floats created by organizations in the area, including the nonprofit Environmental Volunteers, which carried a large, papier-mache Earth down the parade route. The Palo Alto Recreation Foundation sponsored a float contest that will award prizes to the first-, second- and third-place winners. The results of the contest are expected to be announced on Tuesday.

Public safety groups also made a presence at the event, such as the Palo Alto Police Department and Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley.

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The parade route started on University at Emerson Street, then continued down to Waverley Street, where it turned and ended at Heritage Park. The community was invited to a fair hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto, which took place until 1 p.m.

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After three-year hiatus, May Fete Parade makes a comeback downtown

Much-missed event brings Palo Alto community together again

by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, May 9, 2022, 9:52 am

Downtown Palo Alto was bustling with activity on Saturday for the 98th annual May Fete Parade, an event that brought the community together under the theme "What emPowers you?"

The event kicked off at 10 a.m. with community members marching down University Avenue, a spectacle that hasn't taken place since 2019 when the parade last took place. Some children embraced the theme by donning their superhero capes and costumes at the event, which drew hundreds of people.

Locals lined up on the sidewalk to wave and cheer children and families. Some parade participants brought their pets to join the fun, others rode bicycles and scooters. The crowd also was treated to music by local students, including the Palo Alto High School band, Gunn High School Instrumental Music band and fifth grade students from the Palo Alto Unified School District.

There also were floats created by organizations in the area, including the nonprofit Environmental Volunteers, which carried a large, papier-mache Earth down the parade route. The Palo Alto Recreation Foundation sponsored a float contest that will award prizes to the first-, second- and third-place winners. The results of the contest are expected to be announced on Tuesday.

Public safety groups also made a presence at the event, such as the Palo Alto Police Department and Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley.

The parade route started on University at Emerson Street, then continued down to Waverley Street, where it turned and ended at Heritage Park. The community was invited to a fair hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto, which took place until 1 p.m.

Comments

Mom in Palo Alto
Registered user
Professorville
on May 9, 2022 at 12:07 pm
Mom in Palo Alto, Professorville
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 12:07 pm

Why isn't the May Fete Parade... fun?

Every year, the May Fete parade just feels like a missed opportunity to me. My kids are prime age for this sort of thing (ages 5 - 10) and we live within a block of the final stop in the route. We are IDEAL to attend. Yet we just don't really care to.

Why? There's nothing to DO there. You do the parade, and then that's it. The end of the route just has a bunch of groups hawking their group stuff. That's cool -- no problem with that. But my kids aren't going to be like "Yay! Let's go to the May Fete Parade so we can get some flyers from the Kiwanis Club!" (no offense at all to that group!).

This isn't just us. None of my friends with similar aged kids make a point to go. Sure, they will if their school is in it... and then promptly leave, as there's nothing to do.

Where are the bounce houses? The magicians? Balloon artists?

This should be a FUN event -- something that brings families to come by.


Just Another Parent
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 9, 2022 at 3:22 pm
Just Another Parent, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 3:22 pm

@mom - I fully agree with you. Prior to the Kiwanis sponsored affair in the park a true, fun, kid focused event took place at the end of the parade. I believe the route ended at Addison school, and passed by Channing House so the residents could view the parade. At the school a very fun filled celebration took place - with fun games, prizes, snacks , firetrucks, police cars for viewing etc. It was a real town celebration. Even the parade itself is not what it used to be - it had more entries, more floats and creativity... Bring back the fun of May Fete!


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2022 at 5:19 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 5:19 pm

The reason it is not imaginative, friendly or fun anymore is that The City of Palo Alto does not invest in children or youth or families or outstanding arts and local organization. It's all about greedy property values, limiting property tax revenues, paying contract consultants, law suits are torsade voices opposed to leaf blowers and getting rid of RV "dwellers" . There is such an empty space of feeling and heart -- poking sticks into what once was. The connection of community is void. Zoom calls, emails, swiping on our iPhones and checking out "hit" rate analytics with stupid tricks. Why bother with a the true human spirit of togetherness. The collective dedication of planning, gathering to celebrate in traditional fashion is just too hard. I guess we have to be grateful the city did not hire a consultant to study putting on the parade and it took place at all. Some of city taxes used to go to things like parades and fireworks... not anymore. Was there even a theme? Or a master of ceremonies. Shell shocked from the COVID microbe bomb that split us a part, I hope not forever. but it's looking that way.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 9, 2022 at 7:50 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 7:50 pm

Wow, the comments above are SO RIGHT ON!!

My daughter and her two adorable children, 4 and 6, couldn't wait for the parade and the opportunity to play games and win prizes.

That is what my daughter remembers from her childhood.

What a disappointment when they got there. None of the homemade floats, kids walking with their schools, or fun costumed animals, and most of all, a wonderful carnival at the end with games and prizes. Very sad that the city of Palo Alto would not come up with the money to fund this event!!


Carol
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2022 at 3:08 pm
Carol, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 10, 2022 at 3:08 pm

I am sorry to read the comments about the May Day Parade. I recall in the long ago past taking my Kids and Grand Kids . We were all very involved as a family, as the local PT and the Elementary school. I never remember the City Council funding the event. Each school made a float assisted by the parents, the kids rode their decorated bikes and often pulled a guinea pig or parrot in a cage on a wagon. The school bands from Paly, Green (Jordan) and Gunn played . My daughter remembers twilling her baton with a group of 3rd graders. The school had family picnics at local parks following the parade. The kids didn't even know about "bouncing houses".
A good time was had by all!


Just Another Parent
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 10, 2022 at 8:48 pm
Just Another Parent, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 10, 2022 at 8:48 pm

Palo Alto weekly - how about an article on May Fete of the past - the parade and the post event celebration. You must have a wealth of archives that could show the planners of today what it's all about.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 10, 2022 at 9:54 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on May 10, 2022 at 9:54 pm

Yes, it is hard to recreate wonderful events from the past like the May Fete Parade.

It use to be a truly homegrown, funky, creative event! Kids with their animals marching down the street, tons of homemade floats, and all the school bands!

I think the city needs to have more publicity and city funding to make this a community event again. Or is "community" a lost cause?


Less Traveled Road
Registered user
University South
on May 12, 2022 at 6:22 pm
Less Traveled Road, University South
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 6:22 pm

I remember when the end-of-parade fair changed from Addison to Heritage Park. The problem was that Addison made a lot of money from the small amount charged to play the games. All the elementary schools had a fair, but Addison was perceived to have an unfair advantage because the parade ended there. So instead of letting all the schools have booths at the fair to spread the wealth, they moved the whole thing to Heritage Park where it became the current status quo.


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