For many years, Castle Heights has been holding their annual fifth Grade Christmas Parade. From the outside, it may look like just one more fun celebration for the students before the Christmas break.
In reality, the school tradition was born from literature. Every year, fifth graders read about eleven-year-old Maria Gonzaga in a book called “Maria; A Christmas Story.”
The story takes place in the San Joaquin Valley area of Calif. Maria is from a migrant family and the story delves into how she changed things in her community to start a new tradition. The plot centers around a Christmas parade that had floats sponsored by the wealthy in the community.
Never before had any of the poor, Mexican-American farm families taken part in the parade of giant floats. Only the wealthy ranchers could afford the thousands of dollars it cost to create them.
Little did Maria imagine that it would be her own last-minute inspiration that would steal the show and become a tradition celebrated each year at Christmas in the little village of San Lazaro, Calif.
The book inspires Castle Height’s fifth graders to come up with a Christmas themed “float” every year to parade through the halls for the entire student body.