Town Square

After three-year hiatus, May Fete Parade makes a comeback downtown

Original post made on May 9, 2022

Downtown Palo Alto was bustling with activity on Saturday for the 98th annual May Fete Parade, an event that brought the community together under the theme "What emPowers you?"

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 9, 2022, 9:52 AM


Posted by Mom in Palo Alto
a resident of Professorville
on May 9, 2022 at 12:07 pm

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Why isn't the May Fete Parade... fun?

Every year, the May Fete parade just feels like a missed opportunity to me. My kids are prime age for this sort of thing (ages 5 - 10) and we live within a block of the final stop in the route. We are IDEAL to attend. Yet we just don't really care to.

Why? There's nothing to DO there. You do the parade, and then that's it. The end of the route just has a bunch of groups hawking their group stuff. That's cool -- no problem with that. But my kids aren't going to be like "Yay! Let's go to the May Fete Parade so we can get some flyers from the Kiwanis Club!" (no offense at all to that group!).

This isn't just us. None of my friends with similar aged kids make a point to go. Sure, they will if their school is in it... and then promptly leave, as there's nothing to do.

Where are the bounce houses? The magicians? Balloon artists?

This should be a FUN event -- something that brings families to come by.

Posted by Just Another Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 9, 2022 at 3:22 pm

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@mom - I fully agree with you. Prior to the Kiwanis sponsored affair in the park a true, fun, kid focused event took place at the end of the parade. I believe the route ended at Addison school, and passed by Channing House so the residents could view the parade. At the school a very fun filled celebration took place - with fun games, prizes, snacks , firetrucks, police cars for viewing etc. It was a real town celebration. Even the parade itself is not what it used to be - it had more entries, more floats and creativity... Bring back the fun of May Fete!

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2022 at 5:19 pm

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The reason it is not imaginative, friendly or fun anymore is that The City of Palo Alto does not invest in children or youth or families or outstanding arts and local organization. It's all about greedy property values, limiting property tax revenues, paying contract consultants, law suits are torsade voices opposed to leaf blowers and getting rid of RV "dwellers" . There is such an empty space of feeling and heart -- poking sticks into what once was. The connection of community is void. Zoom calls, emails, swiping on our iPhones and checking out "hit" rate analytics with stupid tricks. Why bother with a the true human spirit of togetherness. The collective dedication of planning, gathering to celebrate in traditional fashion is just too hard. I guess we have to be grateful the city did not hire a consultant to study putting on the parade and it took place at all. Some of city taxes used to go to things like parades and fireworks... not anymore. Was there even a theme? Or a master of ceremonies. Shell shocked from the COVID microbe bomb that split us a part, I hope not forever. but it's looking that way.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2022 at 7:50 pm

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Wow, the comments above are SO RIGHT ON!!

My daughter and her two adorable children, 4 and 6, couldn't wait for the parade and the opportunity to play games and win prizes.

That is what my daughter remembers from her childhood.

What a disappointment when they got there. None of the homemade floats, kids walking with their schools, or fun costumed animals, and most of all, a wonderful carnival at the end with games and prizes. Very sad that the city of Palo Alto would not come up with the money to fund this event!!

Posted by Carol
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2022 at 3:08 pm

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I am sorry to read the comments about the May Day Parade. I recall in the long ago past taking my Kids and Grand Kids . We were all very involved as a family, as the local PT and the Elementary school. I never remember the City Council funding the event. Each school made a float assisted by the parents, the kids rode their decorated bikes and often pulled a guinea pig or parrot in a cage on a wagon. The school bands from Paly, Green (Jordan) and Gunn played . My daughter remembers twilling her baton with a group of 3rd graders. The school had family picnics at local parks following the parade. The kids didn't even know about "bouncing houses".
A good time was had by all!

Posted by Just Another Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 10, 2022 at 8:48 pm

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Palo Alto weekly - how about an article on May Fete of the past - the parade and the post event celebration. You must have a wealth of archives that could show the planners of today what it's all about.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2022 at 9:54 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Yes, it is hard to recreate wonderful events from the past like the May Fete Parade.

It use to be a truly homegrown, funky, creative event! Kids with their animals marching down the street, tons of homemade floats, and all the school bands!

I think the city needs to have more publicity and city funding to make this a community event again. Or is "community" a lost cause?

Posted by Less Traveled Road
a resident of University South
on May 12, 2022 at 6:22 pm

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I remember when the end-of-parade fair changed from Addison to Heritage Park. The problem was that Addison made a lot of money from the small amount charged to play the games. All the elementary schools had a fair, but Addison was perceived to have an unfair advantage because the parade ended there. So instead of letting all the schools have booths at the fair to spread the wealth, they moved the whole thing to Heritage Park where it became the current status quo.