BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The pandemic didn’t just cheat a lot of people out of their holiday traditions last Christmas, it cheated some institutions too — institutions like the Bakersfield Fox Theater, which was deprived 0f the opportunity to properly celebrate its 90th birthday. 

Yes, the grand dame of downtown opened on Christmas Day 1930, so last year would have been, should have been, the year to blow out the candles.

Well, happy 91st birthday from the 39th annual Bakersfield Christmas Parade, which has named the Fox Theater its grand marshal. You can be forgiven if those words made you instantly envision the Fox’s distinctive neon clock tower tottering precariously atop an overburdened parade float.

No, that won’t be the case, but the Fox is indeed the parade’s official “person” of honor.

Fox Foundation board member Andrea Hansen is coordinating the float construction. Andrea, how can a building be a grand marshal?

“While it is a structure, we do like to refer to her as Lady Fox,” she said. “So maybe that’s helpful, you know? She is a persona all on her own, standing tall in the middle of downtown.”

The Fox Theater isn’t the only local institution excited about making a comeback. The Bakersfield Christmas Parade itself is back, live and in person, after going virtual in 2020. Thirty entries submitted video presentations last year — creative, but the hot chocolate just didn’t taste the same. This year, 76 entrants, including 21 floats, are on the bill.

Hansen likes to think of the Christmas parade as a coming-out party for the long-dormant local performance-arts scene.

“With respect to the pandemic, the arts were the first to close, and truly the last to open,” she said. “So allowing the Bakersfield Fox Theater to be the grand marshal of the parade is almost like, the arts are back! Come downtown, go see a show.”

Among the floats, other than the Fox: KGET, rumbling past parade watchers right before the South High School Marching Band.

So, wear a coat, bring some gloves and don’t forget the holiday cheer. The Bakersfield Christmas Parade is back,  and is the Majestic Fox Theater, celebrating a birthday one year later than it would have liked.

In honor of its 91st birthday, the Fox — located at 20th and H streets — will be open and serving free popcorn and hot chocolate from 5;30 p.m. till 8:30.