Woodside School's Parent Teacher Association sponsored the parade, and added a new tradition this year: highlighting a group of students. Middle school Spanish teacher Bjorn Wickstrom was asked to lead the inaugural effort and focused on the history and meaning of Cinco de Mayo.
"We did a class on what is culturally appropriate, what would be respectable to wear? We didn't want sombreros," he said.
Students wore red, white and green to symbolize the Mexican flag. Some rode in a float, others walked, carrying a banner designed to clarify a common misconception — "El Dia de Independencia no es Cinco de Mayo!" Independence is celebrated September 15 and 16. On May 5, 1862, Mexicans won a surprising victory at the battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.
Longtime Woodside resident George Offen led the parade as grand marshal, driven in style from the school down Woodside Road to Canada Road in a sleek black 1969 Camaro, and then returning along the same route in a bronze 1958 Cadillac with Woodside Mayor Chris Shaw behind the wheel.
Offen said he was "very honored and very surprised" to be there. As a former school parent he co-founded what became the Woodside School Foundation, andserved on the school board and several other committees in a span of more than three decades.
The Royal Kindergarten Court made up of king and queen Mack and Elsy, princesses Elena and Valentina, and princes Austin and Souta rode in the Woodside Fire Protection District's vintage truck.
Next in line, a colorful float filled with this year's graduating class of eighth-graders promoted the class operetta, Disney's "Alice in Wonderland," coming up May 30 to June 2.
The real horsepower followed with a large contingent on hoof and foot representing the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, an organization based in Woodside since 1978 that provides clinical hippotherapy and adaptive horseback riding to children, adults, veterans and first responders.
Repeat participants, such as San Mateo County Mounted Patrol, Los Trancos Community Marching Band and Woodside High Marching Band, returned again this year. So did Woodside School parent Cliff Kalinowski for the fourth time, except this go-around his balloon-festooned 1956 red and white Bel Air started spewing smoke midstream, and his carload of kids had to bail.
Nathan Elliott had better luck driving his kids in "their great-grandmother's car," a teal 1967 Malibu Chevelle.
Other cars and trucks doubled as vehicles to carry messages including invitations to come to Woodside Community Foundation's Woodside Day of Giving on May 12, Woodside School Foundation's Grand Auction "Woodside Circus" on May 19, and Woodside Village Church's 125th anniversary party on May 20.
The parade pleased young and old alike. Former school parent Karie Thomson rushed over with her grandsons after T-ball and was glad to catch the tail end of the horses. Nearby Elke Demma sat in a chair, reminiscing about making costumes for her kids when they won blue ribbons in the parade. She said in her 57 years of living in town she has rarely missed a parade because "I just like it."
After the parade the action shifted to the school's amphitheater, where PTA president Kari Daheb presented the Citizen of the Year award to Jen Upson, a parent who serves on the PTA board, runs Woodside Soccer Club, and oversees the school garden.
Decked out in new brightly colored outfits, third-graders then performed a sword dance and May pole dance. The old pastel skirts and sashes that had been passed down for years have now been replaced with green, orange, blue and pink tutus for the girls, and suspenders and bowties for the boys.
As soon as the performers took a bow people started walking back across the campus to line up for more activities, a barbecue and afternoon filled with carnival games.
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