DOWNEY - After more than 25 years - at least - Christmas is finally returning to Downey.The Downey Chamber of Commerce agreed last month to boldly shun political correctness and restore the name of its annual wintertime parade to the "Downey Christmas Parade." "It just felt like the right thing to do," said parade planner Maria Larkin. The parade was originally called the Downey Christmas Parade when it was founded more than 50 years ago by the Lions Club. But under pressure from the AFL-CIO, the parade's name was changed to the generic but more politically correct Holiday Lane Parade, Larkin said. The name stuck, even after the Downey Chamber of Commerce took over the parade from the Lions Club in 1988. According to Larkin, the chamber of commerce received "so many calls every year" from residents complaining about the parade name. Finally this year, with backing from the City Council and the chamber board of directors, the chamber's parade committee changed the name back to the Downey Christmas Parade. "As it turns out, we all had wanted to change the name but had never talked about it," Larkin said. "It should be the Christmas parade. Christmas is a day and a holiday. It exists." Even after so many years, the parade continues to be a popular tradition in Downey, drawing thousands of residents to Downey Avenue on the first Sunday of each December to enjoy floats, bands and equestrian units. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman and all-star Evan Longoria rode in last year's parade as celebrity grand marshal. The parade is funded entirely by community and corporate donations. Despite the volatile economy, the chamber lost only one corporate sponsor this year, All American Home Center, which is going out of business. "This is truly a parade for the community," Larkin said. "The community should be proud."
********** Published: November 10, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 30