When the city of Lathrop was forced to cancel its Christmas parade amidst a winter storm that hit California this past weekend, local leaders were determined not to let a little rain spoil the fun.

“While Mother Nature knows how much we need rain, she’s unfortunately rained on our parade,” city officials wrote in a social media post as they announced the cancellation of the event.

“However, we are not going to let this ruin our Holiday Spirit,” the announcement further read. The parade was originally scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, starting on 5th Street and J Street.

The city instead turned the Lathrop Community Center into Winter Wonderland, opening its doors from 10 a.m. to noon. At the venue, parade goers got a chance to see some of the push floats and giant balloons from the parade, take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and play with the elves and the Grinch.

“The weather out there is horrible, so we brought it inside and set up some activities for kids — give them something to do and enjoy, especially on a cold, windy, rainy day,” said Andrea Brown, who put on an elf costume for the first time this year for the event.

Brown was in character, hopping and skipping around with a big artificial belly and entertaining the kids. “I am acting crazy with the costume on, and Grinch over there is doing a great job messing with everybody and their toys.”

From left, Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus take pictures with Julian Jimenez, 16, Remmy Rivera, 1, Erick Higareda, 5, Galilea Higareda, 4, and Giovanni Rivera, 3, during Winter Wonderland at Lathrop Community Center on Saturday. (Photo by Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Karla Rivera, a Salida resident who grew up in Lathrop, brought her children, nephew and niece to the event. “I moved to Salida, but I’m always a ‘Lathropean’ at heart,” Rivera said. “I bring my kids and family to these events, and it makes everyone feel at home.”

Rivera further appreciated the city’s efforts to find a way to make the event happen. “Mother nature had other plans, but the city wanted to see what they could do for the community and the kids,” Rivera said. “And with this event, [the city] is proving how much it loves the community.”

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.