Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip
Field Trip: San Jose Holiday Parade
Trip Date: December 6, 2009
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: December 10, 2009

Seven or eight club members and associates came out into the early morning chill on Sunday, December 6 and joined the 125,000 others who watched this year's 28th annual San Jose Holiday Parade.

After departing from our breakfast meet-up at Flames restaurant, our group was quickly absorbed by the huge crowd that was packed in along the parade route. Each of us sought out various positions along the route, hoping for a bountiful take of parade pictures. Gerry L. claimed his spot on Santa Clara Street near where the parade formed, and I managed to squeeze into a place near the main reviewing stand.

It's pretty important to think out your plans when attacking an event such as a parade. Your choices can make or break your pictures. (I should have fought for another vantage point, because I was plagued by many challenges, including the backs of people's heads and a couple of streetlight poles that just wouldn't stop ruining my shots. Whaa! Whaa! Yeah, I know. Stop being a baby!) My situation pretty much forced me to rely entirely on a medium telephoto lens, which was fine on this particular day, because of the overcast sky. Any wide-angle images would have a blank, white sky. Overcast skies, however are great for color rendition, so there were positive aspects to that soft, "north light." By the time I arrived on the parade route, the crowd had engulfed the best viewing area next to the VIP grandstand and I pretty much had to scramble for grab shots. (I should have been a little more "rude" and pushed my way to the front, but I didn't feel like tripping kids and shoving grannies this particular day.)

The content of the parade was very good. There were numerous balloons and plenty of things to photograph. Bay Area resident, and former Olympic figure skating gold medalist, Kristi Yamaguchi was the Honorary Grand Marshal, and waved sweetly from the sunroof of a black Hummer. There were numerous marching bands, playing their best for the band awards and a large group of theatrical organizations, including Circque du Soliel, Ballet San Jose and the Children's Musical Theater San Jose, among others, perfomed in the street before the main grandstand.

This parade has become one of the major events in the United States and is ranked with the "biggies" including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, etc. The parade began in 1981 as sort of an entrance ceremony for Santa Claus at the opening of that year's Christmas in the Park display. The following year, Santa's entrance became a procession around the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, with marching bands, fire trucks and a hanful of floats. Soon the procession was too big to circle the park and became a proper parade. It was first broadcast on televison in 1987, and in 1993 it became the San Jose Holiday Parade. In 1994 it had grown to the level of a major event, with animated balloons and professionally-made floats. By the turn of the 21st century, the parade was ranked among the top 25 parades in America.

This event always proves to be a spectacle and the parade participants are at their best because of the TV coverage, prizes and high profile of this particular parade. The photo opportunities are numerous, and if you like to photograph people, then this is a "gravy" event. You should consider coming to next year's event. And, there is a good chance that this will be part of next year's Field Trip Schedule.

© 2009 S.R. Hinrichs