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Tim Myers: 14 years of Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parades

Myers’ Musings

Posted: July 4, 2009 10:04 p.m.
Updated: July 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The city of Santa Clarita incorporated in 1987 with an estimated population within the city limits of about 110,000.

Twenty-two years on, the population stands at around 180,000 - not counting similar growth in the county areas of the SCV.

So naturally conflict exists between the true "newbies," who arrived after the turn of the century; the "semi-old-timers," who arrived before the city's 10th anniversary in 1997, or before the first appearance of a Wal-mart in 1996; and the true "old-timers" who fought for city incorporation and lived here prior to 1987.

Many are the arguments that arise when people try to prove their bona fides with respect to SCV citizenship.

Does one become an old-timer because he actually attended movies at the old Plaza Theatre on Lyons? Or does attendance at the old Mann Theatre cum church provide the necessary longevity chops?

Does one need to remember when obtaining an Icee from the K-Mart at Bouquet Canyon and Valencia Boulevard constituted the hot thing to do on a Saturday night? Or will remembering when Rattlers was the only sit-down restaurant in Canyon Country properly suffice?

I would humbly propose a different test: One can measure the true depth of SCV patriotism and commitment by counting the number of times one either attended or participated in the Santa Clarita Valley Fourth of July parade.

I would like to state that I watched the Santa Clarita Valley Fourth of July parade evolve over the 14 years I attended, which includes the 12 years I announced, but this would negate the fact that despite the ebbs and flows of the number of entries from year to year, the parade remains a constant in our rapidly changing environs.

(This year may prove slightly different since Magic Mountain will enter an elaborate display to remind local folks of the park's continued existence despite its parent's bankruptcy filing.)

The fact remains that a core group of approximately 30 to 40 entries constitute the reliable backbone of the parade, with perhaps another 20 to 30 changing in and out depending on their memory of heat stroke during their previous participation.

And another fact also remains and makes the parade quite endearing: No one can call it anything but extremely cheesy.

A plurality of entries look like the participants put them together that very morning, based on a concept developed between the ninth and 10th beers at the pre-Fourth of July barbecue the evening before.

So how does one measure SCV patriotism by parade involvement?

On the level of attendance, attendees must arrive early and set up in extremely hot conditions on concrete. They then must wait up to an hour after the official parade "beginning" while the unsynchronized mass stops/starts its way to where they sit. The attendees must then sit through sweltering heat while the tenth Cub Scout pack rolls by.

With this unpleasantness, attending five years out of the last seven proves one's SCV bona fides.

On the level of participation, marching once in the parade means one did not think it all the way through.

Twice means one possesses a high threshold for physical punishment.

Three times indicates insanity.

I often felt the sweltering masses of viewers secretly began to despise later entries in the parade since they unnecessarily lengthened the parade and the time in the surface-of-Mercury heat.

For this kind of commitment, three times indicates stalwart SCV patriotism; those who participate eight to nine years out of every 10 require some type of beatification.

But the true patriots must be those who, for some 20-plus years, provide the fully volunteer engine that runs the parade, which most assume gets financially underwritten by the city.

While the city provides the not-insignificant funds to pay the Sheriff's Department for street closures and traffic control, unpaid volunteers perform every other important task: from Leon Worden's chalking of entry boxes in the parade staging area; to Duane Harte's roundup of necessary convertible vehicles to carry pampered elected officials and beauty queens; to Carol Rock's frenzied re-writing of parade narratives the night before to convert first-person accounts to third person for the sake of the announcers, and shortening the 800-word resumes of the various beauty queens to something that announcers can read before the convertibles sail around the block a mile away.

Now, for the announcers, we deserve no kudos because we just like the attention. Or at least I just like the attention.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident and CPA who thinks numbers hold the key to everything. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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