The West End is set to host the fifth annual Long Beach Electric Light Parade featuring antique cars, fire trucks, floats and bicycles wrapped in decorative lights to celebrate the holiday season.
The parade will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. and will run down Beech Street from Ohio to New York avenues. Local restaurants and businesses will serve hot chocolate along the route and offer specials for the night.
“As in years past, it will be bigger and brighter, with many new additions,” said parade Chairman Jamie Lynch. “It’s a far cry from what it used to be when we first started out. Our first year was hysterical — we had the Swingbelly pig, a pipe band and a couple of cars with lights. In a short time, this night on Beech Street has become so much more.”
A holiday event that started out as an effort to support local businesses reeling from Hurricane Sandy, it continues strong as a way to revitalize the West End during the winter. It’s a collaborative effort between the city, the Chamber of Commerce and the Parks and Recreation Department.
Lynch said he was inspired to bring the Electric Light Parade to fruition when he learned a couple months after Sandy that two brothers, Ray and Joe Pfieffer, were giving rides in an antique fire truck to local children to cheer them up. Since then, Ray died of an illness, but Joe and the Pfieffer family will lead the parade.
“It was the concept of giving back that gave me the idea to start the parade,” Lynch said. “Why have one fire truck when you can have 15?”
Immediately after the parade, Jetty will offer free Central Park-style horse and carriage rides to families in addition to serving hot chocolate to children along the route.
“We thought it’d be a good idea for the community, because it’s fun for the kids, it’s giving back to the patrons who support us all year, and at the same time, bringing awareness to the West End,” said Jetty owner Chris Fiumara.
Additionally, the Cabana owner Bob Johnson said he will showcase an antique fire truck with live music in the parade. Local artist Jahstix will perform along with a band called Indaculture.
For more information, visit the Long Beach Electric Light Parade Facebook page.
The parade coincides with the second annual window decorating contest hosted by the Chamber of Commerce as part of an effort to encourage residents and visitors to shop local.
“It’s going to be a family fun night,” Lynch said. “The shops will be open late and each restaurant will be doing something different. Come out, enjoy the night, have a cup of hot chocolate and watch the fun pass by.”