Downtown Los Gatos was flooded Saturday with green and red, different incarnations of Santa and Mrs. Claus strutting their stuff, young dancers and singers, and an abundance of cheer and goodwill.

It was all part of the Holiday Promenade, which took cues from the successful summer street fair series hosted by the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce, and made up for the children’s Christmas parade that was cancelled over fears about the Delta coronavirus variant.

“It just helps to reaffirm the community,” said Daniel Roberts, the owner of local radio station 101.9 FM KPCR, as he went booth-to-booth with his German shepherd and Siberian husky mix. “It’s a very good way of knowing what organizations and stores are in Los Gatos.”

Roberts says he was able to meet a family-owned brand focused around the Santa Cruz Mountains that was birthed out of the CZU Lightning Complex fires of 2020.

Christmas pictures
The Holiday Promenade was a winter spectacular that provided a shot of festive energy for the community after the children’s parade had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

As Pete St. Pierre, a Campbell resident, waited to catch his own daughter’s dance performance, he took in another class’s rendition of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

“We just got here,” he said. “I think it’s great we can actually do this again.”

The Nutcracker dancers totally nailed it, he commented.

“The precision is just amazing,” he said. “I know the hours they put in.”

Getting ready for an event like this takes hours of dedication, he notes, crediting his spouse’s efforts to leave work early to drive their 8-year-old daughter Kaia to dance Monday-Thursday.

“My wife does all the hard work,” he said, adding his daughter was going to have to perform on a much smaller stage than usual. “I think she just likes to get out and share her love of dance with people.”

Cousins Alexis Escarcega, 16, and Mary-Jane Sell, 18, were in-person representing their 60-year-old grandmother (Rebecca Rook)’s company Kiss and Makeup.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Escarcega said of the event. “We’re selling a lot of product—more than we normally do.”

Holiday Promenade, N. Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos - 2021
ECONOMIC BOOST – Business reps said attendees at the Holiday Promenade were in the mood to buy local. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Sell described how a lot of people told them they know Rook already and were happy to swing by to greet them.

“They want to support local businesses,” she explained, noting their grandma sources her products from independent creators. “She usually supports Indigenous peoples’ brands a lot, and showcases them in the store.”

Escarcega notes they even have Black Lives Matter ornaments on offer.

The event has provided a much-needed boost at the end of a tough year, according to Escarcega.

“I think it’s a cool way to interact with people,” she said. “It’s really helpful to generate business out here after Covid.

“It’s been a rough year.”

Five-year-old Silas “the Spaceman” Pawlowski’s family is from Los Gatos, although they live in Phoenix now. He got to have his picture taken with a giant cartoon character.

PHOTO OP – Silas “the Spaceman” Pawlowski gets his picture taken with Bumble the abominable snowman while visiting Los Gatos from Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Adam Kleinberg, owner of On Purpose Chiropractic, said he was happy with how the event was going.

“We’ve booked a few new patients,” he said. “It’s just good to see a lot of people out smiling, laughing and playing.”

Plus, he said, the weather was decent, leading to a positive environment.

“It’s not windy; it’s pleasant,” he said. “People are pretty chill downtown here.”

Avni Hulyalkar, the 16-year-old Los Gatos Kiwanis “Key Club” vice president, said they were boothing to raise money for an accessible playground.

The group’s president, Jordan Chan, 16, said they are working with Landscape Structures, Inc. to develop structures that people with a variety of disabilities can enjoy safely.

“We just got the go-ahead from the Town,” Chan said. “Being here at the Promenade is to get people interested in the project.”

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]