Kick Off San Diego's Holiday Season with the Mother Goose Parade

Watching a parade like the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon
••• Watching a parade. Charles O. Slavens/Photolibrary/Getty Images

If you're looking for something fun to do this holiday season in San Diego, don't forget about nearby El Cajon, which plays host to the fun and festive Mother Goose Parade each year. Mother Goose may not be the first thing you think of when you think "holiday season," but read on to learn more about this annual event and why the history of it ties back into the holidays. 

What is the Mother Goose Parade?

The Mother Goose Parade was started in 1947 by Thomas Wigton, Jr.

and a group of El Cajon businessmen. This parade was their gift from the business community to the "Children of East County."

The Mother Goose Parade attracts upwards of 400,000 spectators and chooses a different theme each year. Floats may choose a nursery rhyme theme or a display related to the annual theme. The parade has everything you would likely expect in a parade: marching units, bands, floats, clowns, cartoon characters, equestrians and more. The event is broadcast on radio and television.

Why is the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon?

Prominent El Cajon businessman Thomas Wigton was driving home from Los Angeles one rainy evening and had a brainstorm: the El Cajon business community had to give the children a Christmas present and he hit on the idea of a parade. El Cajon didn't have its own annual parade yet, and so the Mother Goose Parade soon came into existence. 

When Does the Mother Goose Parade Take Place?

The Mother Goose Parade always takes place on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day meaning you don't need to worry about it disrupting your after-Thanksgiving day family events (or shopping).

The Mother Goose Parade also delights children by signaling the beginning of the Christmas season when Santa Claus comes to town at the end of the parade on his own special float.

Mother Goose Parade Moment in History

In 1963, history stepped in and affected the parade. More than 300,000 spectators and 94 units were in place when word was received that President John F.

Kennedy was assassinated. The parade was postponed to December 1 due to the tragedy.

Even Disney Likes Mother Goose

The parade attracted over 400,000 in 1973 when Mickey and Minnie Mouse were co-grand marshals and brought many Disneyland friends along to delight the spectators.

What Is The Parade Route?

It generally begins at the corner of Main Street and Magnolia and proceeds east on Main Street, then turns onto Second Street and continues north to Madison, where it officially ends.

Parade Tips

Bring some sandwiches, snacks and plenty of ice cold water for hot days (or a thermos of piping hot cocoa for cold days). Also bring a folding chair to sit on to be more comfortable. If you have kids, bring a blanket so they're more comfortable while sitting on the curb which affords some great views of the parade. 

Edited by Gina Tarnacki on September 19, 2016.