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Crosstown Showdown Parade draws rave reviews
Ceres Unified School District Supt. Denise Wickham takes a selfie with members of Central Valley High School’s Impulse Dance Team at the Crosstown Showdown Parade. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ceres Unified School District

Staged on Aug. 31 around Smyrna Park, the Crosstown Showdown Parade drew positive reviews from participants.

The first event of its kind in the city generated additional excitement for last Friday’s Ceres High-Central Valley varsity and junior-varsity football games.

A record-sized crowd attended the varsity game, which lived up to the hype, as the Bulldogs escaped with a 21-20 win over the Hawks at CUSD Stadium.

“I’ve never seen that stadium that packed,” Central Valley linebacker/kicker Luis Munoz said. “Having all those people there drove us to play even harder.”

“It was an amazing atmosphere,” Ceres High quarterback Landyn Hudson said. “You had loud cheering from both sides. It didn’t stop.”

The parade began on Fowler Road between the Ceres Lions Pavilion and Mae Hensley Junior High School.

Football players, cheerleaders, dance teams and student bands from both high schools marched east, made right turns onto Rose Avenue, Garrison Street, Moffett Road, and back onto Fowler to return to the starting point.

The order of the parade was determined by a coin toss. Central Valley marched first, followed by Ceres High.

Letters were mailed to residents affected by road closures along the route.

“The idea was really cool,” Ceres High interim head coach Brett Johnson said. “It’s what our community needed coming out of COVID and crazy stuff we’ve had to deal with. Seeing community members cheering from their yards was cool. It was a small-town vibe.”

“I’m very thankful for the parade,” Hawks’ tight end Elijah “Booty” Jackson said. “It brought a lot of joy to everybody. The whole community needed that.”

Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez, who coaches lower-level football at Central Valley, addressed the crowd.

He pitched the idea of having a parade to the city 18 months ago.

“To see everyone out there put a smile on my face,” Lopez said. “Everyone was beyond excited. They were 100 percent behind the parade. We want to continue this for generations to come. We’re doing this for the students and their families.”

The city of Ceres organized the event with input from Ceres Unified School District.

CUSD leaders Denise Wickham (superintendent) and Dan Pangrazio (assistant superintendent), and prep athletic directors John Bussard (Ceres High) and Greg Magni (Central Valley) also spoke.

Stanislaus County Board of Supervisor Chance Condit and Ceres School Board members Valli Wigt, Lourdes Perez, Faye Lane, Hugo Molina, Brian de la Porte, Mike Welsh and Betty Davis attended the parade as well.

The Ceres Lions Club provided food and drinks for the 4-5 p.m. event. They cooked 1,000 hot dogs.

“The parade gave the community something to look forward to,” Bulldogs’ running back Tarrell Lee-Gill said. “The most enjoyable part was seeing and hearing the supporters yelling when you walk by. Everyone had fun.”

“As long as it stays positive, I think it should be something they continue to do,” Hawks’ head coach Derrick Gobirsch said. “It’s a good thing.”