Bonanza Day Parade returns to Gilroy


The iconic Milias building and statue of Casey Tibbs across Sixth Street were two of the landmarks along the parade route.
This popular float won first place in several parades across the state.

It’s going to be a rootin’ and tootin’ fall in Gilroy this year.

More than 30 years after it ended, the Bonanza Day Parade is back. Leadership Gilroy has received approvals for a Sept. 29 parade down Miller Avenue, culminating with a festival at Miller Park.

The Bonanza Day Parade was born as a project from Leadership Gilroy, a nonprofit organization that works to develop leadership potential in participating Gilroyans. When the members came together to brainstorm ideas for their capstone project, the regeneration of the Bonanza Days came out as the winner.

“The parade restores what used to be part of our history,” Leadership Gilroy member Raquel Lopez, a sixth-grade immersion teacher, said. “It’s a way to bring the community together, and it encompasses everything from kids, local businesses, to new residents. We plan to bring them all together in this one-day event.”

It will be the first Bonanza Days Parade since the early 1980s, when the four-day celebration of Gilroy’s roping and riding days ended. It will be a one-day event this year, instead of the four-day extravaganza that was staged in the past.

“We met with the Gilroy City Council, the Police Department, and we have our route all planned out,” Leadership Gilroy member Rich Chavarria said. “We’re going right down Miller Avenue.”

Leadership Gilroy has been working on organizing the Bonanza Day rebirth for nearly two months. For them, the parade is a way to bring together longtime Gilroyans and those who recently moved to the Garlic City.  There will be a particular emphasis on getting schools involved.

“Every school will build a float, with help from their parents. Each school will be assigned a liaison from Leadership Gilroy to assist them,” Lopez said.

So far, the Glen View, Las Animas, Antonio Del Buono, Luigi Aprea, and Las Animas elementary schools; El Roble and South Valley middle schools; Gilroy Preparatory School; and Gilroy and Christoper high schools have committed to participate in the parade.

The parade will end at Miller Park, and from approximately 3 to 6 pm there will be a carnival-style event geared for kids.

“We’ll have games for the kids, including things like tug of war,” Lopez said. “We’re also working on getting food trucks out there.”

According to Lopez, the Adams Club 4H, along with the Gilroy Police Department’s mounted police officers, will march in the parade.

Now that much of the work of clearing the parade with the city and police have been resolved, the organizers will kick into fundraising mode. So far, Gilroy Chevy and Heinzen Manufacturing International have signed on as sponsors, Lopez said.

“The money we raise will go to provide material for the schools to build their floats,” Lopez said. “There will also be a cash prize for the first-, second-, and third-place floats. We don’t know what the prizes will be yet; it depends on how much money we raise.”

Two prominent members of the parade’s past, Carol Peters and Al Gagliardi, are working to advise the organizers.



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