VACAVILLE — The scene outside St. Mary’s Catholic Church was mostly quiet Sunday with the exception of some music playing in the background.
Then, seemingly all at once, a parade of tractor-trailers rolled through the streets, carrying a float of people acting out the Christmas Nativity scene.
Shortly afterward, a sea of marchers led the parade while carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary and singing songs for the revered icon Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Thousands celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe Sunday with a morning march from Will C. Wood High School through downtown Vacaville and ending at St. Mary’s Church.
The Lady of Guadalupe is a celebrated Roman Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary. It is one of Mexico’s most popular and ubiquitous religious and cultural symbols.
According to the church, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared before peasant Juan Diego near Mexico City in the 1500s and asked that a church be built at that site in her honor.
Today, Catholic worshipers from around the world celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe with a procession, Mass and feast on Dec. 12.
Celebrations at St. Mary’s Church started Sunday with a two-mile procession and ended with a massive celebration at the church.
Parishioner Elizabeth Belo has helped organize the parade seven out of the past 12 years it’s been held in Vacaville.
The celebration draws visitors from all over the Bay Area, she said. Belo estimated about 5,000 people attended the parade on Sunday.
The parade, Mass and celebration were nothing short of grandiose. Parade-goers wore elaborate outfits such as headdresses made of peacock feathers and carried large statues of the Virgin Mary.
Jessica Espinoza, of Woodland, honored Our Lady of Guadalupe by holding a small statue of the icon.
“I’m happy to be celebrating here today,” she said.
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.