May Fête Parade calls on community to offer their version of a 'Wonderful World' | April 16, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 16, 2021

May Fête Parade calls on community to offer their version of a 'Wonderful World'

After hiatus, annual event returns with a decoration contest, celebration of pets

by Lloyd Lee

After a year of unprecedented loss, Palo Alto is hoping to uplift the community by resuming a longstanding local tradition next month: the May Fête Parade.

Though typically held on the first Saturday of May, this year's parade will stretch into a weeklong event, from May 1 to 8. The theme is "What a Wonderful World," based on Louis Armstrong's famous song of the same name.

"It's been a really tough year and a half for everybody," said Adam Howard, the senior community services manager for the city's recreation division. "We thought, 'Well, what better way to start to move forward than to have people really pinpoint and illustrate what makes our world a wonderful place."

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the beloved event won't include the usual in-person parade, with the fanfare of marching bands, decorative floats and children walking their pets,but instead will feature a "reverse parade" in which the community can walk through designated neighborhoods to view what will be a series of decorated homes, porches, doors or businesses showcasing this year's theme.

Parents and children are encouraged to decorate their homes in a way that highlights "unity and diversity" and what makes "our world such a beautiful place," Mayor Tom Dubois said in a promotional video for the event.

A contest will be held for the best decorated house, which will consider "overall theme incorporation, public appeal, craftsmanship, proportions, animations or special effects and ingenuity," according to the event website.

Three winners — one each from the categories of Culturally Diverse, Spring Themed and People's Choice — will be awarded a $100 gift card to a Palo Alto restaurant of their choice.

Children also will have the opportunity to show off their pets virtually if they submit a picture or video of under 30 seconds of their pets in costume or doing tricks. The clips will be compiled into one video and shared with the community. Participants can also request a cutout of their pet.

The first May Fête Parade was in 1924, when hundreds of children walked their pets along University Avenue. The birth of the parade predates even the larger Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. In its nearly centurylong history, the event has only been canceled twice: during World War II and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As mayor, I don't want to see another year go by without resuming this longstanding tradition that celebrates our youth and our community," DuBois said.

For more information, visit Organizers plan to upload the parade route in the coming weeks.

Email Editorial Assistant Lloyd Lee at [email protected]


Posted by marilyn
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2021 at 10:13 am

marilyn is a registered user.

Growing up in Palo Alto during the 1950s, I remember these parades.

The local PAUSD elementary schools also held May Day celebrations and the 6th graders used to dance around a May Pole with long ribbons.

Palo Alto has become more diverse and a downtown May Parade would be remiss without Asians and Hispanics dressed in their colorful native garb and marchers carrying BLM and LGBTQ banners. An Ohlone representative would also add a nice touch as would actors dressed as missionaries, Spanish conquistadors and the Stanfords.

The PAPD should also consider assigning some officers to march alongside the participants as a goodwill gesture.

Sadly no pets will allowed this year as the pet community has also grown more diverse and far beyond just having hamsters, tropical fish, parakeets, cats, and/or dogs.

People are now keeping snakes, monkeys, and pot-bellied pigs in their homes.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2021 at 10:32 am

Bystander is a registered user.

A parade can be socially distanced quite easily. Having it streamed on Facebook live or similar will make it easier for those who do not feel venturing out to watch. Perhaps we could all make the outside of our homes look festive for May Day also. It could be used as a celebration of life returning to something more community minded.

Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2021 at 10:20 pm

Longtime Resident is a registered user.

I loved the May Fete Parade in the 60s. The Childrens's Theatre costume staff made our fabulous costumes for the parade. One year I was a gingerbread man, and the next year a sunflower(?).
I always longed to be a part of the May Queens Court, but alas, I didn't have the right connections in the Children's Theater. That's okay. I remember who they were, and I have great large black and white glossy photos of all of us together at Community Center near the oak trees in front, which were taken back in the late 60' and early 70's. The May Fete today is nothing like the past. My father has loads of movies from the 60's with all the horses and baton twirlers going down university Ave. It is neat to see the neat old shops I remember.

Posted by Kristy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 13, 2021 at 10:21 am

Kristy is a registered user.

I think Louis Armstrong's song was famous (not "infamous"...hoping that was a typo?)... Great theme!

Posted by Lloyd
a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2021 at 10:28 am

Lloyd is a registered user.


Ha, yes, not infamous. Thank you for catching that.

Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 13, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Pat Markevitch is a registered user.

Please read the article more carefully. There will be no parade, just one in reverse.

Posted by desmond phillips
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2021 at 6:52 am

desmond phillips is a registered user.

- I think Louis Armstrong's song was famous (not "infamous"...hoping that was a typo?)... Great theme!

In fairness to the author of the article, the song was 'infamous' from the standpoint that a record producer did not want Armstrong to record the song because it was not as catchy as Armstrong's earlier hit hit Hello Dolly. The producer even went so far as trying to disrupt the recording session.

The song was originally offered to Tony Bennett who turned it down.

Armstrong went ahead and recorded What a Wonderful World and it became a hit in 1967.

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