Who doesn't love a Parade?
Santa Clara has a long History of Parade Tradition
The "Parade of Champions" has been a time-honored legacy in Santa Clara since 1945. It ran for over 50 years by founders Larry Marsalli and Ed Cunha, and charitable partner YMI (Young Men's Institute) plus numerous volunteers. Twenty four years ago the founders retired, leaving us a legacy of generations of Santa Clarans that have never forgotten the memories, and a sense of community that it created for half a century.
Fast forward to 2019, a determined group of grass roots Santa Claran locals came together to bring it back. We incorporated as a charitable 501c3 nonprofit, now called the Santa Clara Parade of Champions (SCPOC). For many it was a dream come true to see the return of their annual hometown favorite. Our organization's community building mission is to become a platform that connects with all facets of our diverse city that share our values of charity, volunteerism, and giving back. Every year a portion of our proceeds go to a charity of our choice. For our first year back we chose JW House.
In its early days, when Fall rolled around in Santa Clara, the community knew it was time for the annual YMI sponsored Parade of Champions! The Parade featured the best of Santa Clara, was well-attended, in fact at its peak it was second only to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade.
The Parade showcased Santa Clara's Champions like our heroic Veterans, the Mayor and City Council all riding in vintage convertibles, SCPD and SCFD, Civic and Community leaders, the Library Foundation, SCU, Floats featuring local businesses, Clowns, Equestrians, World Champions and Gold Medal Winners, youth sports leagues, school sports and clubs, Scouts, Santa Clara Swim Club, Aquamaids, Miss Santa Clara, the S.E.S. Board, members and Queens and fellow nonprofits, the Santa Clara Portuguese Band performing and waving to the crowds.
The Marching bands would perform for the crowds throughout, Cheerleaders and dance teams, Equestrians and Professional Sports teams. There was something for everyone. And for the grand finale the performance of 7 time World Champions, the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corp rounding up the day's Entertainment.
Mr. Larry J. Marsalli (June 4, 1926 – July 2, 2018) was known as Mr. Santa Clara, lifelong resident and civil servant--was born on Santa Clara Street, went to St. Clare's School, attended Bellarmine prep and graduated from Santa Clara High school. He proudly served in WWII as an army staff sargeant. Returned home, married and started a family. Larry was Mayor from 1967-68, and served on city council for 11 years, and served on, and headed numerous commissions and nonprofit boards. He was also a founding member of Mission City Community Fund and co-founder and Chairman of the YMI Annual Parade of Champions. His community service lives on through the Marsalli Family Foundation. He has inspired generations into community service. Its this love of community that has also inspired our SCPOC board of directors and volunteers to commit to make sure the parade thrives for another 50 years!