The theme of this Saturday’s 45th annual Laguna Beach Patriot’s Day Parade is “Welcome Home,” paying homage to our country’s Armed Forces who have recently returned from the Middle East, at least a dozen of whom are from Laguna Beach, says Parade Association President Michael Lyons.
“These men and women have served gallantly in frequent dangerous and intractable situations in the effort to give the peoples of those nations a brighter and safer future,” Lyons stated in a letter posted on the Association’s website. “For all of them, the idea of ‘home’ has without doubt become an anchor in a dangerous world. And to all of them, we gratefully say by our actions and words: Welcome home.”
More than 100 organizations, businesses and schools from Laguna Beach will participate in Saturday’s Parade, which begins at 11 a.m. on Park Avenue and Legion Street near .
Cars, floats, horses, band members, dancers – and even a double-decker bus and fire engine converted into a pizza truck – will coast, trot, march or twirl from Park Avenue to Glenneyre Street, before proceeding onto Forest Avenue and ending at the corner of Ocean Avenue.
Parading is expected to continue until at least 1 p.m., perhaps longer, due to more entries this year, says Treasurer Sandi Werthe. “Half the town is in the parade and the other half watches, so we’re expecting a few thousand attendees.”
A total of nine trophies will be awarded in three categories for the best “Antique” (1933 and older), “Classic” (1934-1959) and “Contemporary” (1960 and newer) cars, Werthe says. Three trophies will be awarded in each category.
This year’s honorees include Grand Marshals Al Roberts and Ken Jillson; Honored Patriot Frank Kenely; Citizen of the Year Pat Kollenda; and Junior Citizens of the Year Caroline Rechter and Ben Hanson.
Two new categories of honorees were also added this year: Pro surfer and environmentalist James Pribram was named Athlete of the Year, and two students from will be honored as Laguna’s Artists of the Year.
Roberts, a former member of the service who will ride in the parade for the first time, in what he believes will be an old Cadillac, says he is especially honored to participate in such an important theme, and to honor and help those soldiers who are returning home physically or mentally disabled.
“Anything we can do to [raise awareness] and help them, we should do,” Roberts says. “That’s what this is all about.”
The co-founder of the AIDS Services Foundation, Roberts has worked with his fellow Grand Marshal Ken Jillson to raise more than $10 million for those battling AIDS. Roberts is also happy to represent his cause in the parade.
“Helping people with AIDS is an ongoing war in itself,” Roberts says.
A Laguna native, Pribram has fond memories of the parade over the past few decades, and is excited to not only be a part of the event but to be honored in such a wonderful way.
“The best part is being able to share this opportunity with special people who inspire me,” he says. “This is something you dream of as a kid growing up, and being celebrated by your hometown is the top of the chain for me.”
Although street closures, traffic congestion and storefronts blocked by parade attendees will slow business down in the morning hours, many business owners said they don’t mind at all. In fact, many of them participate.
“It tends to make business a bit slow for a few hours, but in the afternoon, things turn back to normal,” says Mark Christy, owner of on Forest Avenue. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This funky parade, along with the Fourth of July, Little League Opening Day at , and several other ‘Only in Laguna’ events, are critical parts of what makes our seaside paradise so special. We’re stoked to be involved and are thankful for the many volunteers who put in hundreds of hours to make it happen.”
The Hobie team will band together with local band the Rebel Rockers on a Bob Marley Tribute float this year.
You can expect Laguna’s restaurants and pubs to also be littered with parade-goers well into the evening hours, so make reservations in advance, and make sure to bring along a designated driver— have been known to set up a checkpoint or two.
Saturday traffic in the downtown area will be heavily congested due to street closures. While Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road will remain open throughout the day, motorists are advised to find alternative routes if they’re not attending the parade.
The street closures will take place from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The affected roadways are:
- Park Avenue (between Wendt Terrace and Coast Highway)
- Glenneyre Street (between Legion Street and Forest Avenue)
- Forest Avenue (the entire length between Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road)
- Third Street (the entire length between Park and Forest avenues)
- Second Street (the entire length between Mermaid Street and Forest Avenue)
- Mermaid Street (the entire length between Second and Third streets)
The actual parade will step off at 11 a.m. from the intersection of Park Avenue and Legion Street in front of Laguna Beach High School, then continue down Park, turning right on Glenneyre and right again on Forest, passing in front of City Hall and the reviewing stand before turning the corner on Ocean Avenue and disbursing (click on the map in the photo box, at the top of this article).
The scheduled lineup for the 45th annual parade:
1. Motor Escort
2. Parade Banner, Laguna Beach Boy Scouts
3. United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, Barstow
4. Marching Band
5. Parade President Michael Lyons
6. Parade Theme Banner, Laguna Beach Girl Scouts
7. Grand Marshals Al Roberts and Ken Jillson
8. American Legion Post 222/Veterans of Foreign Wars Combined Color Guard
9. Honored Patriot Frank Keneley, U.S. Army Air Corps
10. South Orange County Vietnam Veterans
11. Citizen of the Year Pat Kollenda
12. Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association
14. Junior Citizens of the Year Caroline Rechter and Ben Hanson
15. Laguna Beach High School Alumni Association
16. Laguna Beach Unified School District Elementary Band
18. Artists of the Year,
19. Athlete of the Year, James Pribram
20. Patience Wright NS, Daughters of the American Revolution
21. Orange County Chapter, Sons of American Revolution
22. Exchange Club of Laguna Beach
23. and Officers
24. Boy Scout Troop 35/Cub Scout Pack 35
25. Laguna Beach Girl Scouts
26. San Clemente Scots
28. AIDS Services Foundation
29. Pacific Marine Mammal Center
30. Laguna Beach Little League
31. Antelope Valley High School Band, Lancaster
32. National Children’s Study
33. Laguna Beach Seniors
35. Guide Dogs for the Blind, VIP3 Puppy Raisers
36. Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach
37. Kyne Dance Academy
38. Walt and Pamela Otto
40. Rotary Club of Laguna Beach
42. LaPlaya Center/Orange County Model A Ford Club
43. Bassett High School Band, La Puente
44. Laguna News-Post
45. Y-Adventure Guides
48. Laguna Beach Independent
51. City of Laguna Beach Marine Safety Department
53. Laguna Beach Water Polo Club
54. Rialto Middle School Band, Rialto
55. Doctor’s Ambulance
56. Mission Hospital—Laguna Beach
57. Susan G. Komen for the Cure
58. Excalibur Car Club
59. Coastline Pilot
61. Capistrano Valley Model A Club
63. Laguna Board of Realtors
64. Affiliates of the Board of Realtors
66. and “Keep It Wild”
67. Foothills Middle School Band, Arcadia
69. HIP District
70. Ebell Club of Laguna Beach
71. Tommy Bahama—Laguna Beach
72. Laguna Beach Garden Club
75. Oak Avenue Intermediate School Band, Temple City
76. Laguna Beach Film Society
77. Laguna Laughter Club
82. Fountain Valley Marching Band
83. Diamond Crestview Neighbors
84. Kings Order of El Mysah
85. Mel Jackson Fitness Through Dance
87. Townsend Junior High School Band, Chino Hills
88. Village Laguna
90. Waste Management of Orange County
91. Zero Trash
93. Oaks Middle School Band, Ontario
94. Orange County Peace Corps Association
96. Peter Salomon/WWII Rangers Lead the Way
97. Transition Laguna Beach
98. Honors Chorus of / Schools
101. Laguna Beach Lifeguard Association
102. Richard Leger
103. Company 77 “Mobile Pizza Unit”
104. Spurs & Satin