Fremont: Niles Festival of Lights Parade illuminates the night

FREMONT — The 16th annual Niles Festival of Lights Parade drew thousands to the historic hillside district who came to see floats, marching bands, martial arts performers, dance teams, car clubs and even a fire baton twirler pass by in lit-up fashion on Niles Boulevard last Friday night.

Fremont Police Department spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said police estimated about 20,000 people attended.

“This year was the largest crowd I’ve ever seen in the 15 years I’ve been doing it,” Ray Pulver, whose company conducted the parade, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It was an extremely large crowd.”

Some 60 entrants participated in the parade, which spans nearly four blocks from the Sullivan underpass to J Street. There were 13 floats in all, including the popular Irvington Business Association one featuring Santa Claus.

Preceding the parade was the annual holiday tree lighting adjacent to Niles Town Plaza, sponsored by the Fremont Police Association.

Pulver said the parade brings the community together, as people also come to catch up with friends and neighbors.

Bosques said the parade has become such a hit that organizers and the city will need to deal with the growing traffic and parking problems.

“Obviously this is a sign of its popularity,” Bosques said of the parade. “Kids love it, the Niles community loves it.”