Thousands of residents and visitors alike gathered in the West End for the sixth annual Long Beach Electric Light Parade on Saturday.
People lined West Beech Street as antique cars, fire trucks, floats and bicycles decorated in festive holiday lights made their way down the parade route from Ohio to New York avenues.
Local businesses served free hot chocolate along the route and offered specials for the night. Parade chairman and organizer Jamie Lynch said the parade started out as a holiday event intended to support local businesses after they suffered through Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The parade — which is a collaborative effort between the Chamber of Commerce, city and the Parks and Recreation Department — continues strong as a way to revitalize the West End during the cold months, residents and officials said, and has become one of the most popular events of the year.
Lynch said that at least 5,000 people turned out for this year’s event. More than 80 participants joined in the festivities, including local organizations, bands and individual classic cars.
As always, a special family led the parade on an antique fire truck, the city said, and this year the event honored the Long Beach High School Lady Marines volleyball team for their recent state championship win.
“The chamber was so happy to collaborate with the city to bring a family-friendly event to the West End for all to enjoy,” said Lynch, a chamber board member. “We had the biggest turnout ever, and it was especially nice to honor the LBHS girls’ state volleyball champs, and of course all those who put so much effort into their floats — it was spectacular.”
Local businesses served hot chocolate along the route and offered specials for the night. Lynch and Paul Ferrante, assistant superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, thanked event sponsors Lancer Insurance, Pam Air-Conditioning, Petrey Real Estate and Peknic, Peknic, & Schaefer.
“The judges had a tough time this year as competition was fierce,” Ferrante said. “Thank you to our parade chairs Jamie Lynch of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce; Kerry Ann Troy, of the Department of Parks and Recreation; the Long Beach Police Department and all who helped to make this wonderful Long Beach tradition so amazing. What a great way to celebrate the joy of the holiday season!”