HOLTVILLE — The draw of community and tradition can be so powerful that even the injured braved pain to participate in the 73rd annual Holtville Carrot Festival Parade on Feb. 8, sharing a tight-knit bond and common cause.
April Castaneda in her camp chair waited patiently for the parade to begin. Her daughter, Samantha, is a first chair trumpet in the Holtville Middle School band, yet she has a broken toe, explained Castaneda, who was accompanied by her husband, Daniel Garcia.
will still play, but in a golf cart,” she said. “She truly loves
playing in band. Samantha was also first chair for the Imperial Valley Honor
Band. Afterwards, I’ll take my youngsters to the carnival rides. They love the
Dragon Wagon (miniature roller coaster).”
The sway of
a harmonious rhythm is so compelling it revives memories of a long-lapsed
custom. Mary Martinez, a grandmother to Max Montes, 6, his sister, Unika, 5,
and brother, Jaden, 3, revealed she was returning to the Carrot Festival after
an absence of five years. She noted she especially enjoys the equestrian groups
and has a passion for band music.
like the kids in the bands. That’s what makes the parade … oh my gosh,”
said Martinez. “This is my grandkids’ first time at the parade. I took
them to the carnival Friday, hardly no people. You got to beat the crowd. They
liked the little motor boats and dune buggies.”
Neighbors Supporting Each Other
music lifted the spirit of many, some attended to give moral support to parade
entrants. Alejandra Verdugo, a Calexico resident who said she has not been to
the Carrot Festival in 20 years, attended this year to support her son, Alberto
Llanas, a Holtville Fire Department Explorer.
said he’s leading the pack of firefighters today (parade grand marshals),” said
Verdugo. “When I was here last, I was pregnant with him. I like to joke
with him, the last time we were at the parade I carried him in my belly. But
the first time I came here I went to the carnival and I didn’t even see the
supporting a parade marcher was Daniella Gutierrez, of Calexico, and her friend,
Lauren Rabago, visiting from Palm Springs.
daughter, Lea, is in the junior ROTC,” said Gutierrez. “After the
parade will go to the carnival to have something to eat and have a Clamato (a tomato
her mother, a Holtville High School graduate also living in Palm Springs, has a
specific reason for attending: “My mom likes to come down for the local
Parade Prelude to Other Activities
Trevino, who said she has been attending the parade for 15 years, had her eye
out for a specific participant.
niece, Aubriana, who’s 4, is in a float with Noah’s Ark, a preschool,” she
said. “We (with her husband) know children in the middle school marching band
and tall flags drill team. We’ll go to the carnival and check out the food. My
kids have wrist bracelets (for rides) and they can go as often as they like.
They also like kettle corn and funnel cakes.”
of festival food were Yessica and Ernesto Zelaparra, who said they wouldn’t
definitely staying after the parade and take the kids to the carnival,”
said Yessica. “My three-year-old Jimena likes the carousel. And we like
the old-fashioned ice cream you can get in little cups.”
Misty Hawk said
she loves coming out to the parade every year to support the community.
always look forward to seeing Highline Cooling’s float.” she said. “I
love the fresh produce they decorate it with. We’ll also check out the park
with all the craft booths. We went to the carnival Thursday and my daughter,
Kate, likes the slide and the big jeep ride that goes in a circle.”
Lara, the Holtville High track and field coach, pointed out his daughter, Karla,
who competed in the 5K run earlier that morning. It was the first time she ran
in several years, she said, but insisted it was not difficult. The race proceed
along the Alamo River Trail that was nicely cleaned up, she noted.
finished 29th, which was pretty good,” she said. “I tried to keep up
with the cross country girls. After the parade we’ll maybe try some of the
rides. I like The Zipper, but I’ll try not to eat too much before.”
68 entries in the parade. Leading off was the Holtville Fire Department Color
Guard. Other entries included Carrot Festival Queen Alexis Piper, Princess
Lexee Roeseler and Junior Princess Brytni Valenzuela. Citizen of the Year, Holtville
Fire Chief Alex Silva, road in another car.
on one of the equestrian clubs, parade announcer Mike Goodsell, a city council
member, introduced the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang from Lakeside, who were keeping
the spirit of the “Old West” alive.
men are in the banking business,” Goodsell joked. “But they make no
deposits, only withdrawals. They have time to rob a bank in the morning and
make a get away and rob another bank across the county line in the afternoon.”
with the presentation of float award winners, resident Mary Helen Dolente
perhaps spoke for many saying, “This is what’s exciting for me, the
marching bands. They sound so professional and they look so good.”