Ever watched a parade as a kid? All the floats, the music, costumed characters galore. I have. To this day, I still enjoy watching parades, especially Christmas parades.
One of my favorites is the Ocean Beach Holiday Parade. Every year my family would go down by the beach early for a good parking spot. Then we’d walk down the surf shops to find our usual spot on the curb to watch the parade. Our family is a long dedicated Ocean Beach fan. We even have our family name painted on one of the curb spots with other family names. We use that spot on the curb for our parade spot. Seeing all the beautiful lights, VW vans driving down the lane, gorgeous floats, and great Christmas music. All the while we’re sipping hot cocoa as we watch the parade. I remember the freezing cold from the coastal beach air, but it was worth it to watch the parade.
With such fond memories of the Ocean Beach Holiday Parade, imagine my excitement when the Ocean Beach Town Council Committee accepted my application to join the 2021 Ocean Beach Holiday Parade as Ms. Wheelchair California 2022. I get to be in the parade! Not just any parade, but my favorite one. This year’s theme was the Rockin’ Around the Crooked Tree.
“For over four decades, our quaint little surfing village of Ocean Beach has hosted one of the best Holiday Parades in SoCal. On the 1st Saturday of December, Newport is lined with colorful OBceans and visitors, all eagerly awaiting the commencement of the parade. For some, it's the excitement of seeing the Point Loma Marching Band strut their way down the street or the SD Roller Derby Dolls in their eye-catching costumes. For others, it's watching the VW Beetle Club and Classic Woodies roll down Newport Ave. Some prefer the motorcycles, brightly lit floats, and countless bands that fill the beach with live music. Whatever your pleasure, OB has it all. Of course the Big Man himself... Santa Claus....will be making his appearance too!” (Ocean Beach Town Council)
The morning of the parade, I woke up excited. Today was the day to cross off my item off my bucket list, be in a parade. I dressed up in warm pants (did I mention how freezing it gets at the beach at night?), a snazzy red top, and of course, a gorgeous red and black jacket with shiny silver threading. All from my
favorite store, Lane Bryant! With gorgeous black diamond jewelry from Effy. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to wear my black diamond sea star earrings to go with the beach theme! If anyone knows me well, they know how much I love opportunities to wear ocean/beach-themed jewelry.
After putting on my sash and Santa hat, it was time for decorations. My dad and my caregiver were a huge help in decorating my chair for the parade. I would not have accomplished anything without them. I had picked up fairy battery-operated lights for this event. Round and round, the lights went on my chair. I even added a few other lights. I really wanted to make sure the cars and golf carts in the parade there could see me and not get run over. Additionally, I hand drew my design and name on a poster for people to see. So be sure to let me know what you think of the design. Maybe I’ll do a T-shirt for it. Hmmm…
Soon it was time to go. Wow, how time flies when you’re getting ready! I got picked up by the MTS Access bus at my shopping center 3 miles from my house. Darn you MTS for not having an active bus route for the weekends. Those with disabilities enjoy going out on the weekend too like everybody else! Someday All Voices will Count.
I arrived at Ocean Beach and checked in at my designated station for the parade. I have an hour to kill. Where do I go to kill time? To one of my favorite wineries of course. Gianni Buonomo Vintners! “Recently voted Best San Diego Winery, Gianni Buonomo Vintners features a tasting room that offers wine by the glass, by the bottle, and a wine tasting flight through the entire line-up of award-winning wines.” Gianni Buonomo is a great local spot to visit. I had a delicious glass of Mataro that was recommended to me.
I next rolled back to my spot to wait for the parade to begin. I was stationed behind Ms. Vista and Miss Vista floats. It was awesome. Each of the ladies wore a gorgeous dress and a lovely cape. And Who should I run into while waiting for the parade to start? One of my favorite professors from the UCSD Paralegal Extension program! She has been a great fan and supporter of my campaign. When she heard I was to be in the parade, she made sure to walk over to say hi before the parade.
The whole parade was a success. I rolled into the night with my lights twinkling and a smile on my face. The crowd cheered on as we continued down the lane. I twirled my chair around and did doughnuts to the delight of the crowd. I bowed and waved to others. Everyone there got animated. I got motivated and did more tricks in my chair. Later, the other parade floaters told me they enjoyed following behind me and watching my antics. After my section of the parade finished, I got to roll through the crowds. Many attendees recognized me and told me how much they loved my performance. They liked watching me and said I did a fantastic job out there. I also got many congratulations for winning my reign. Hopefully, this parade opened many people’s eyes and show inclusive our society can be for those with disabilities.
It was truly an amazing day, and I am grateful that I got this opportunity to be a part of it. I feel that this was a big step in creating more disability awareness. By being involved in parades such as this creates much-needed exposure for disability inclusivity. Not only did the attendees get to see Ms. Wheelchair California 2022 as part of the parade, but the press too. I got contacted that same night by Ken Stone for the San Diego Times. He came right up to me and asked the best part about the holidays
https://timesofsandiego.com/life/2021/12/04/ob-holiday-parade-goers-wishes-for-the-world-peace-joy-and-no-more-covid/ Then he gave me his business card. A few days later, we had a scheduled interview and an article published on myself and my campaign! What an honor!