Chico’s 30th Annual Parade of Lights


The Pirate ship was one of the tallest floats in the parade Photo credit: Julian Mendoza


The school bus featured students inside of it, the students cheered outside the windows. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

As the sun began setting down, the sky continued to get darker while downtown Chico cleared the streets with parade workers blocking of portions of downtown. Some parade floats would be coming in from college town, where the would head North-East towards West 3rd Street.

Nearly everything from the attendees, local buildings and floats would brighten up for Chico’s 30th annual Parade of Lights.

Once the parade began, each participating group of the parade would have a small number used for differentiating each other. An enthusiastic voice described what group would be coming in next with a brief description about them.


There would be diverse shows one after another, fire trucks, children and adults on bikes packed with lights, multiple marching bands, local Chico celebrity Mike G Ride and a boat complete with sails.


Nearly 80 different floats made their way across downtown as crowds of people young and old would wear their own light accessories, checking out what insane float may come next.


This float had music playing and a disco light and an elvis like impersonator. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Prior to the Parade of Lights, downtown Chico held a parade centered around Pioneer Days, but after one Pioneer Parade in the late 1980’s, an influx of violence happened around town. After that, the city of Chico canceled the event entirely.


But council members and the mayor at the time wanted the spirit of the parade to go on, they approached community members asking them to let the spirit go on. According to Grandmaster Farshad Azad, that’s the story of how the Parade of Lights originated.

Farshad Azad Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Today, with the help of nearly one hundred volunteers, sponsors and a dedicated volunteer group of board members, one of the biggest events in downtown Chico are able to happen. A night where everybody is having fun, where people can enjoy what they bring into the community, celebrating everybody.


Azad describes it as a time when there are no arguments about politics, just people from different walks of life enjoying the light show.


Mike Wessels announced the different incoming floats and organizations one after another. Wessels and his members at the radio station, The Blaze, get asked by Azad’s Martial Arts and they are always glad to do it according to Wessles.


“They had the pirate float coming by and if for no other reason than they managed to navigate around some trees that were hanging over the street with a very tall float,” said Wessels. “And they didn’t delay anything at all, they got around those trees very nicely and it was a well done float and there was a lot of fun to see.”

Pirate Ship.JPG
The Pirate ship was one of the tallest floats in the parade Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

The planning for the parade can start as early as January where city permits, in June they begin reaching out to schools to get them involved, according to Brent Largent the Chairman of the Board for the Chico Parade of Lights.

Mike Wessels Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

“The pirate ship had too tall a mast and got caught in the tree’s and it completely tore the mask of the top of the ship, that was pretty hilarious,” said Largen. “So they had to adjust it, make it shorter this year so it would fit under everything.”

Largent would love to have more volunteers, he wants to see more floats next year and encourages anybody to go to to help.

Largent Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Julian Mendoza can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JulianMTheOrion.