Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happenings: Fourth of July Parade

NOTE: July 5th is the first birthday of the IHeartSCV blog, though not the blogger. While not the only blog in or about Santa Clarita, I take solace in the fact that it is the very best one, at least according to a City Councilmember whose compromising pictures I have in my possession. [Is he kidding? Gosh, I hope so!] Thanks to the people who take time to read this site's sundry ramblings, alert me to stories, and link here. I have some new stuff planned (a version of a Tour de SCV and an SCV eBook Club) that I'll be getting around to later on this month. But for now, let's turn to the part of the Claritan Calendar I heart most.

When it comes to the Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade, I refuse to sit anywhere but the sidewalk of Lyons Avenue. It’s never crowded, the few people around are much more tolerable than the McBean masses, and should Armageddon come, I’m just a block away from Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The Lyons locale is also close to Egg Plantation. And by my reckoning, if one is going to force oneself to endure the stomach-turning sights of the parade, the least one can do is enjoy a stomach-pleasing omelet first. Almost incomprehensibly, though, Egg Plantation[1] was serving an entirely eggless menu on the Fourth. No Benedicts or scrambles or sunny side-ups were to be had—just muffins, potatoes, and waffles. I was so jarred by the experience that I didn’t even have the presence of mind to ask why there were no eggs. I just ate my waffle and trembled, contemplating feelings of loss and betrayal.

After breakfasting, we walked to a shady spot from which to spectate. This is the other good part of watching the parade on Lyons: you experience a mild sense of camaraderie with your neighbors without having to be so close as to smell their sunscreen or partake in forced conversation. I was with four parade virgins (and one parade veteran) who were largely oblivious of the care I had taken in selecting our spot on the sidewalk. Still, I was happy they came to watch the parade. Some of them had never attended despite more than two decades in the SCV.

After a mere 50 minutes of agonizing anticipation, the parade began.

This year’s theme was “sights and sounds of Santa Clarita”[2]. The first of these sights and sounds were fire trucks blaring their horns and sirens. Given our valley’s proclivity for burning, I’d say it was a pretty accurate start. I trust that the procession of fire trucks and firefighters went straight to one of the many nearby blazes after driving by the adoring public.

Deafening toddlers with 120-decibel sirens never felt so patriotic. But perhaps there were ear plugs…

Next came John Boston, a man who has never been reluctant to offer clauses as complete sentences in his quest to write that which is Santa Clarita. As Grand Marshall, he wore a red and white-checked shirt (think picnic cloth writ small) and a vest sporting stars, bison, and Indian-inspired diamonds in black, red, and blue on white. It was western, patriotic, and Claritan all at once; we expected nothing less of our G.M.

Both of these men claim to be Mr. SCV, one for years of residence, observation, and writing and the other for winning a beauty pageant. So who is the real Mr. SCV, John Boston or Paul de la Cerda?[3]

After that, I believe I blacked out. Leon Worden's (who has many job titles and feathers in his cap, none as important as enthusiastic-over-estimator of parade attendance) website promised Kellar and Pulskamp after Boston[4]. I just didn’t see them. I did get to see the she-councilmembers, however, who were pulled in a white carriage like a trio of Disney Princesses some decades into “ever after”. Prince Ferry, however, was nowhere to be found.

After the Claritans of Consequence puttered by, the rest of the parade followed. There were flatbed trucks masquerading as floats, ponies, and old cars punctuated by a few memorable groups. The largest by far was, again, NorthPark Community Church[5]—which I have rechristened NorthPark Community Empire. Literally hundreds of members of the congregation marched on the streets, pulled mini-floats, kept massive helium stars from floating to the heavens, and promoted their church and school like none other. All the while, they danced to “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical[6]. The only thing missing was...religion. The other main religious float (by The Village Church) paled in comparison. Their mere dozens sang “I am a Friend of God” and waved.

All of the photos above are from the same NorthPark entry. The glossy ad posters, matching shirts, and web-savvy approach clearly signal that we have entered the era of Worship 2.0.

Several less spectacular entries followed. Some SCValleyMommies[7] minivans drove by, pomising a website that is "Where all the cool moms go." They were decorated with hand-painted monstrosities by the mommies’ decidedly non-gifted children. Later on, a tractor pulled the senior float, invigorating 80-year old lungs with diesel particulate. The Signal[8], too, joined in the parade march. Just as some floats distributed flags and flyers, I thought The Signal could have given away papers. It's not as though anyone would have bought them, after all, but it was not to be. Later, all 22 (I counted) of Santa Clarita’s democrats came out to march for Obama and precede cars for the soon-to-be-failed campaigns of Carole Lutness and Bruce McFarland[9]. There were many other entries, but they had a mercifully brief stint in my short-term memory.

Daddy drives a Mommies Van (left), and a tractor pulls a group of seniors and the senior-friendly.

Somewhereabouts the middle of the parade, there were literally TEN convertibles for Santa Clarita pageant winners[10]. My invention of Little Miss Corner of McBean and Old Orchard had gone from mocking to prophetic! Indeed, there was a Little Miss Santa Clarita, Saugus princesses, even a Mrs. SCV and Mr. SCV. No, I'm being quite serious.

Per usual, the parade’s closing division included the Masons and other SCV social groups. If you have read anything along the lines of The Da Vinci Code or listened to Coast To Coast AM, you know that these are the people who run SCV...and the world. Mayor Kellar and City Manager Ken Pulskamp are little more than a puppets pulled by strings that are the whims and wishes of the Masonic Order. Let not their fringy hats and absurd ceremonies fool you; these are Clarita’s true power players.

The Keepers of Clarita.

When the parade concluded, I turned to my first-time-parade-watcher friends and asked them what they thought. One said “I’ve never been more sure that I want to move.” I tried to sympathize. As always, the parade is about endurance, not enjoyment, and that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There are some who would prefer to live in a city where participation isn’t so painful. But had we learned nothing from the suffering? Had we not caught a glimpse of the sights or heard a snippet of the sounds that typify life in Santa Clarita? I believe we had. We saw a community that is young and growing, the next generation being reared on a diet of extracurricular activities, Ritalin, and self-esteem. We saw an outward demonstration of our valley’s spiritual side. We realized that while the City is big, it’s still possible to find faces of people we know personally riding on a parade float. People everywhere in Santa Clarita were doing stuff--whether leading Boy Scouts, serving in the armed forces, or running a business--and it was stuff they felt proud enough of doing to put on display. Somewhere in this mélange, I think, lies Santa Clarita and, more importantly, something worth hearting. We may be just one small piece of the United States, whose independence we so joyously celebrated, but...well yeah, actually I'll stop there.
We really do.

[1]Their website claims that 6000 eggs are broken a week in-house. They failed to mention that none of these are broken on the Fourth. Last year, I had an omelet; this year, devastation.
[2]From Leon Worden's website (linked below), here is an FAQ on the parade theme:
Q: What is the theme — "Sights and Sounds of Santa Clarita" — supposed to mean?
A: It means that the parade celebrates everything that makes the Santa Clarita Valley a great place to live, work, shop and play. It also means the judges will be looking for you to incorporate MUSIC in your entry. In addition to the specific theme for 2008, there is a second and equally important "permanent" theme: Celebrating America's Independence. Ideally, your entry should reflect your own interpretation of one or both of these themes.
[3]Here's more on de la Cerda's win.
[4]The lineup. I understand they were on horseback, but I completely missed them. I am filled with shame and regret, in that order.
[5]Not that they need more advertising, but here is the NorthPark website.
[6]If you’re a good Claritan, you know that film co-starred Ashley Tisdale, who lived in SCV for some time and went to Valencia High. God bless NorthPark’s music director for the nod to SCV-based stardom!
[8]The Signal's coverage of the parade can be found here. It's by Tammy Marashlian.
[9]Here are links to the Lutness and McFarland websites in case you're curious.
[10]All about pageants! Is anyone else bothered by the fact that they write "Meet our girls on our Myspace page!"?


Anonymous said...

I heart your report. Nice work.

Did you catch the guy who's 'float' said "I need a job?"

Anonymous said...

What about Santa Clarita's First Family, the Smyth's? Were they in the parade? I heard our State Assemblyman is dreamy.

A Santa Claritan said...

Anon1: Saw the "float" and wanted to go run and push him over. As a marketing director for hire, he failed to market himself sufficiently to bother linking to his site.

Anon2: If you look at the post directly below this one, I have a picture of Smyth's "dreamy" visage looking straight into the camera.

Anonymous said...

RE: No Eggs at Egg Plantation

That's why you should have pancakes with the Rotary Club! It was great and a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

What is this talk about the Smyths being SCV's First Family? The first family is the Newhalls, of COURSE. Or the McBeans?

Egg Plantation didn't have eggs because their gas burners were out of order. Surely you knew that if you went!

And I'd like to remind you that even though one of your friends at the parade hadn't been to see the parade in her whole life, she was IN the parade as a small child. Show some reverence!

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