Christmas tree lights, downtown Christmas parade, visits with Santa and sips of hot cocoa and apple cider will highlight the winter holidays in the Hemet San Jacinto Valley, beginning Dec. 2 and delighting thousands of children and parents.
Kicking off the holiday events will be the huge Hemet Christmas Parade 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. The parade will travel down busy Florida Avenue/state Route 79, signaling the arrival and early visit of good Ole’ St. Nick riding in Hemet Fire Department’s ladder truck.
The Christmas parade that drew thousands in 2016 with more than 60 entries promises to be even bigger this year with middle, high school and college bands, Hemet San Jacinto community leaders, equestrians, antique and classic cars, dancing groups, gymnasts, martial arts schools, church choral groups, floats decorated in bright tinsel and ribbons, motorcycles and everything even a Grinch couldn’t stop.
This year’s parade theme “The Whimsical World of Dr. Seuss,” will be featuring the moody Grinch and several despicable characters who tried but never succeeded in stealing Christmas and instead found their own hearts.
The parade will step off promptly at 10 a.m. at the corner of Palm and Florida avenues, traveling west down Florida Avenue to Gibbel Park at Kirby Street.
Gibbel Park will become a holiday wonderland with a “Christmas in the Park” celebration immediately following the parade. There will be vendors, food booths and other activities all celebrating the holidays.
The holiday celebrations in San Jacinto begin Friday, Dec. 1, with the 11th annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Valley Wide Recreation and Park District Regional Park at 901 Esplanade Ave. in San Jacinto. The countdown begins just before it turns dark. Leading up to the gala tree lighting, Santa will be greeting and meeting the children in the gym area where hot cocoa and cookies will be served as is the tradition.
For a good “Old Fashioned Holiday” celebration and a visit to a museum housing displays of ice age creatures, the Western Science Center, 2345 Searl Parkway, in Hemet will open its doors beginning at 5 p.m. Dec. 5, with cookie and cocoa treats during the free event.
Throughout the month of December, Hemet and San Jacinto churches will be presenting Christmas plays and offering concerts of the season to be announced.