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Leadership Gilroy Breathing New Life into the Bonanza Day Parade Written & Submitted By Raquel Lopez Leadership Class of 2018 T hose of us who grew up in Gilroy remember the days when you walked into the local grocery store and everyone knew your name. We were a small town where neighbors and kids interacted with one another. Times have changed. We have almost lost that small town feel. Our goal, as Leadership Gilroy’s Class of 2018, was to disrupt daily routines, bring people out to socialize and have fun, and bring back that small town feel. That led us to choose the Bonanza Day Parade as our class project. As part of our Leadership Gilroy program, we attended monthly classes focused on team-building strategies and developing relationships within our team. Trevor Van Laar did a phenomenal job of getting the class to think critically and use team-building skills that would later transfer to our project. We had the wonderful experience of our overnight retreat, hosted by Hacienda de Leal. At the retreat we looked at 17 project ideas—knowing we wanted to impact youth, preserve history, and bring back a small-town feel—and nar- rowed our project ideas down to three. Our team then broke into groups to research project proposals. A week later, teams presented their proposals and shared findings with the class. 20 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN The Bonanza Day Parade was chosen. The rebirth of the Bonanza Day Parade was the brainchild of Richie Chavarria, a local auctioneer and Gilroy Historian who convinced myself, Chad Haygood and Scott Alexander to rally on his team and push through to get this project going. We knew it would be a lot of work. In the beginning we were told it couldn’t be done within the six months we had to complete it. Richie was passionate about the project and his energy and determination were contagious. From the start, we thought of the Bonanza Day Parade as a show for our community and wanted to stay true to the original Bonanza days from 1968. We found the original hoosegow, but is was in bad shape so class member Dan Mitchell created a reproduction. Staying true to the original, we also planned to have tug-o-war, junior royalty, free cotton candy, free hot dogs, gunny sack races, the Clampers, marching bands, Adams 4-H, FFA and real parade floats. All of the Gilroy Unified Schools decided to participate in the event. Our fundraising provided money to schools to build their floats. Class members Chad Haygood and Scott Alexander secured the use of 14 trailers donated by local businesses. Schools were competing for a chance to win a piece of the december 2018-january 2019 gmhtoday.com