It was with hope and desperation that a young parade watcher asked his mother “Was that the last float?” He wasn’t the only one running low on enthusiasm: lasting two hours in 90-degree heat, the Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade tested the resolve of all but the most patriotic Claritans. This is unfortunate, as the parade is over seven-decades old and the closest thing to a tradition this valley can claim. Like childbirth, it is not a pleasant experience—agony tempered by brief glimmers of joy—but it’s certainly an important one.
Per usual, most of Santa Clarita didn’t even show up. While neither of our local papers put a firm number on the crowd, I'd say it couldn't have been more than a few thousand strong. On my block there were scarcely 70. However, Leon Worden informed me that there were "25,000" in attendance. This figure would suggest that one out of every six residents showed up, so I'll give Mr. Worden the benefit of the doubt and assume he mistakenly typed an extra zero.
What the crowd lacked in numbers it did not make up for in enthusiasm.
Still, I recognize that we all show our love of country (and valley) in different ways. So, to the hundred-thousand-plus residents of Valencia, Newhall, Canyon Country, and Saugus who didn’t see fit to show up, I’ll brief you on what you missed.
Obligatory were four items on every “float” (usually a flat-bed truck or trailer): (1)American flags, (2)Waving children shrilly shrieking “HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY”, (3)Balloons, and (4)Hay bales. Items 1-3 are fine, appropriate even, but why the hay bales?
Unfortunately, this uniformity made it difficult to recall what the floats of any particular groups looked like even seconds after they passed. Thus, to the few standouts of the parade go the IHeartSCV Awards for best floats.
Trash Band, with their mammoth-tricycle-caveman-jungle float receives top honors. Their production in no way related to the theme of the parade (“20 Years of Cityhood”) and had even less to do with commemorating American Independence. But, to borrow a phrase from Old School, it was glorious.
In jarring contrast to the child swarms were the child idols. These were little girls and boys who had won one of the myriad pageants held in SCV (e.g., Runner-up at the Miss corner of McBean and Old Orchard Parkway Competition). The prerequisites here were a massive chiffon gown that could be draped over the back of a convertible and the ability to smile while enduring the early stages of heat-stroke.
CARS CARRYING THE (QUASI-)IMPORTANT
A must at all parades, over-priced cars carried over-important people. Generally, there was a relationship between how important the person was perceived to be and the niceness of the car in which they were chauffeured. We saw the Mayor, State Assemblyman Smyth (hair greased as generously as always) and, of course, Grand Marshall Buck McKeon.
Mayor Marsha McLean was seen bedecked in flags, while Congressman Buck McKeon chose a backyard barbecue ensemble: T-shirt, shorts, and cowboy hat.
GROUPS VIGOROUSLY SELF-PROMOTING
Finally, we had businesses and groups showing their patriotism by getting free publicity. No one understood the publicity game better than “NorthPark.com”. They invested in a massive blow-up American Eagle and in three Macy’s Parade-style floating stars, complete with human anchors. They had dozens of people marching, many in a human line bearing letters that spelled out N-O-R-T-H-P-A-R-K-.com. Being hopelessly naïve, I thought these were just some very spirited residents of the well-funded Northpark community. In fact, they were very spirited members of the well-funded NorthPark Community Church. A Catholic myself, I have to admit that our modest St. Vincent de Paul Society Van—the same one used to carry charitable donations to the poor—was hopelessly humble relative to the display put on by the Northparkers. Well-played, NorthPark Community Church, well-played.
Finally, not to be outdone by what we like to call “The Other Parade” in Southern California, a panel was assembled to award official prizes, which you can view at Santa Clarita 4th of July Parade official website. The Filipino-American Association of SCV won the coveted Sweepstakes Prize. It appears that Friends of Hart Park, taking second, weren’t friendly enough for the judge’s taste.
Awed as your eyes now are by the spectacle, the majesty, and the glory that are the Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade, I trust you’ll be going next year, and I look forward to seeing you there.
 Leon Worden, a power-player in the online world of SCV, manages websites for such groups as SCVTV, the SCV Historical Society, and, of course, the parade. You can visit him at http://www.scvleon.com/
 Interestingly, while two floats played “YMCA”, this was not one of them.
 It involves roses.