The prince and princesses who reigned over Guerneville’s Parade of Lights festivities were crowned in a November 29 dinner ceremony at the Timberline Restaurant.
The young royalty were anointed for raising $3,700 in this year’s Parade of Lights holiday raffle ticket drive that benefits the non-profit Friends of Stumptown, sponsors of the annual winter Parade of Lights, Guerneville’s spring Stumptown Parade and the July 4 Guerneville fireworks show. The three Guerneville community events were in danger of being discontinued when the Friends of Stumptown stepped in to help them survive.
“These great kids sell the tickets, and the proceeds go to the parades,” said Friends of Stumptown member Valerie Booker. For his efforts this year, Prince Orion Kent was also awarded a $500 scholarship from the Guerneville branch of Community First Credit Union.
Kent along with three princesses, Ashlee Adams, Alexandria Smirnov and Ivie Strong, were the top raffle ticket fundraisers this year.
“They’re all winners,” said Booker. “They all helped save the events.”
The expense of staging the holiday Parade of Lights, held last Saturday night in downtown Guerneville, can run as high as $5,000 for county and Caltrans permit fees, Highway Patrol’s traffic control services, plus trophies and other expenses, said Booker. The three-day extravaganza includes a Guerneville tree-lighting ceremony, the prince and princess coronation dinner and the culminating parade down Main Street.
Friends of Stumptown stepped in to save the events because they didn’t want to lose the community-oriented traditions that helped create a sense of local identity.
“That’s why we really tried hard to take them over and keep these community events alive,” said Booker. When Friends of Stumptown first organized as a Russian River Chamber of Commerce subcommittee “the most important thing was to keep these events going,” said Booker.
This year’s holiday parade marked the first time the Friends of Stumptown has worked on their own, independent of the chamber, said Booker.
“We do it to keep our community spirit together. These days, we need to be kind to each other,” said Booker. “If it makes one kid smile, that’s what it’s about.”
Next year’s (2019) Stumptown Parade, which informally marks the opening of the lower Russian River summer season, will be held a little earlier than usual, on May 11, to get local school students more involved, said Booker.
Friends of Stumptown also sponsors Guerneville’s participation in National Night Out, the nation-wide community-police-awareness-raising event held the first Tuesday in August.
In related news, Leslie Jo Booker Crane, Valerie Booker’s sister, will be given a Spirit of Sonoma award for her work with Friends of Stumptown at a luncheon ceremony this Friday, Dec. 14 at Rohnert Park’s Double Tree Hilton Hotel. The lunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For reservations, call 584-5466.