About Hacienda Heights 4th of July Parade
HACIENDA HEIGHTS 4TH OF JULY PARADE
A PEEK BACK IN TIME TO THE WAY WE WERE
Each year Hacienda Blvd and Stimson Ave. become colorful, exciting streets when the banners go up for the annual July 4th parade. The banners wave to show pride in our nation and signal the upcoming parade on the 4th of July. Ten years ago an effort to better fund the parade was started. Community leaders and local businessmen have their names put on banners to show their support for the parade. The first parade was in 1988 and it is now over twenty years old.
The parade is planned by an all volunteer parade committee and sponsored by Hacienda Heights Kiwanis, It is a source of pride that (unless a business advertisement appears on the float), there is no entry fee. With the help of banner sponsors and Supervisor Knabe the “I Love America” parade is still going strong. The faces of the parade committee have changed over the years, but the desire to honor our country and provide a wholesome way to celebrate our nation’s birthday goes on.
The first parade was in 1988 and was planned in two months. The idea was suggested by the late and beloved Barbara Fish to Keith Cooper who was with United Cable TV and Bill Lynch President of Kiwanis, who presented the idea to Kiwanis to sponsor the event. Insurance had been the major issue holding back the idea. After considering the pitfalls, Kiwanis agreed to work with community groups. Kiwanis member, Keith Cooper, then an employee of United Cable, worked hard to flesh out the plans and arranged for a $1,000 donation from the cable company. He also arranged to have the Hacienda Heights parade videotaped and broadcast by United Cable Television. It was to be called the “I Love America” parade with the same theme each year. The committee decided to have the parade on Stimson, a very safe street. The original plan to march on Colima and Hacienda Blvd, was considered too long for youth groups to march. Children were always the primary consideration of the parade planners. Only two of the original planning committee, Ken Kim and Barbara Fish are still active.
The first parade in 1988 was amazing. The entries were special such as a mule drawn wagon entry, clowns, antique cars, church groups, school kids and our two bands. Later, Gil Adams would form a Wilson Alumni band and that would make three we could always count on. In order to be fair, the high schools take turns being the 1st Division band and the Alumni band is last by their request. In retrospect, it remains one of the best parades. There was no money then so cardboard was donated by Irene Kubo and the signs were made with stencils! Ideas were presented in the parade that would shape HH. For example a recycling entry which remind people of our landfill problem. Well known residents decorated trash cans with recycling items and marched down the street in them! FUN! Each year new entries were encouraged to name just a few, we had “Striker” the Mascot for the Soccer World Cup in the seventh parade. Wells Fargo brought their stage coach and famous horses. The Navy’s model ship was in for several years. And an Air Force model was also in. Beautiful women in costume and Mexican riders were a favorite. The Shriners entered their clowns driving the Tin Lizzies. We have been blessed with local clowns and the Elks club clowns. Solar Cars were entered by Los Altos High School and Cal Poly. A school group built a rocket. Amazing multi - ethnic entries marched and put pride into the diversity of our community. The creativity of the people has been remarkable and rarely is a lot of money put into the entries. The judging was started in the later years. Kathleen Pensak and committee members set up criteria to get residents to compete for trophies.
In 1994, Jim Davis was honored by HHIA. The weekend prior to the parade is a clean up day along the parade route and other streets. The community is spotless and the crowds appreciate that and leave NO trash. It is teamwork on a hot day and groups get out and do a smashing job.
As the parade went on, a Queen and court was desired and they are elected at a Kiwanis Rib Fest every year. In 2008 they rode in a beautiful horse drawn carriage.
Over the last 15 years. The faces of Mary Ann King and Ken Manning became the voice of the parade on cable television. After riding as Miss Romper Room for 2 years, in 1990 (third parade) she became our announcer with Ken. Although Ken moved away and can not do it, Mary Ann continues. The residents along Stimson have been generous in supporting the parade closing off their street for half a day. The parade is never on Sunday since several churches are along the parade route. The parade has had no accidents.
Once the event is over, in about a month, the parade committee evaluates the parade. Then, in the month of January, a new parade starts to take shape. It is open to all including residents from other communities. In 1999 a survey was taken on what people liked most. They told us what we knew, we need more bands. And the work goes on. What a marvelous tribute for a small community to make to celebrate our community’s people and our great country.
Drafted by Barbara Fish in 2009.
2007 Grand Marshal Barbara Fish
Photo by: Richard W.
2007 Grand Marshal Barbara Fish
Photo by: Richard W.