This Independence Day weekend, America is awash with patriotic fervor, and nowhere was this more visible than in Arcadia’s community parade Saturday–its first in more than 75 years.
First Avenue, between Duarte Road and Huntington Drive, was transformed into a thronged and sun-scorched runway for a cast of approximately 600 to showcase some of Arcadia’s volunteer groups and organizations. And the spirit of the weekend was very much alive in the crowds who lined the street, with much flag waving and cheering for the colorful cavalcade.
A boisterous marching band was at the head of proceedings, which kicked off around 10 a.m., and were succeeded by an eclectic blend of Boy Scout groups, vintage cars and sports teams, amongst others. There was, however, a distinctly royal flavor to the celebration.
“We’ve reunited all of Arcadia’s most beautiful princesses and queens together for this very special occasion,” said Tammi Herron, administrator for Arcadia’s Tournament of Roses alumni group, as a horse drawn carriage rolled past carrying Rose royalty from years past, each with a sash detailing their year of triumph.
There were in attendance more than a dozen Rose Queens and Princesses represented by Arcadia, from present day royalty spanning all the way back to 1949, with Virginia (Bower) Nichols.
Patti Smith, who pitched a seat right by the road to watch the parade, was thrilled to see an event of this nature return to Arcadia, and hopes that there isn’t a wait of another 75 years before the next one.
“I like seeing America respected and our troops respected,” said Smith. “And it’s so great to see groups like the Boy Scouts out there. Respect for our country is so important and we need to instill it into our children.”
of the Arcadia’s Best Foundation, who organized the event, was delighted with how it went, and was quick to praise other members of the foundation for their efforts to get the project off the ground.
“It was a labor of love … and the organization was amazing,” said Hettrick, singling out Carol Libby, Sho Tay, and event coordinator Bruce McCallum for special mention.
Hettrick said the main thrust of the parade was to showcase the community and all of the people who work tirelessly in their charitable endeavors.
“I feel like we’ve got the some of the best people here in Arcadia and it’s just so great to be able to put something like this on for everyone … try to create that community feel.”
When the parade finished, around 11 a.m., the crowds dispersed to a large street fair where a variety of stalls, gourmet food trucks, music and vintage car displays awaited. According to Hettrick, part of the idea behind the fair was to bring the spotlight back onto downtown Arcadia – an area he believes has been a somewhat forgotten part of the city.
“Hopefully something like this will reintroduce Arcadia back to downtown,” said Hettrick. “The businesses here have done a great job in turning this place around and part of the goal was to celebrate that fact.”
This wasn’t lost on Dr. Brad Miller, an Arcadia-based chiropractor with a stall at the fair. He was pleased that he had made the effort to attend the event, and hoped that more business may come his way as a result.
“I think it’s a spectacular first effort," Miller said. “I’m glad I’ve got a presence here and I hope it drums up a bit of business. I’ve had people from out of the local vicinity show interest - which can only be a good thing.
The fair wrapped up around 3 p.m., but not before a number of prizes were given. The baby photo contest was won by Nathan Marshall with the senior photo category going to Carol Libby. In the three-car categories, favorite American car went to Jay Devenport, favorite pre-war car went to Dudley Oschner, while the favorite foreign car category went to Sho Tay.
As for next year: Hettrick said that they would have to look at the numbers before a decision was made, but that the turnout and the atmosphere were definite pluses. He believed that attendance figures for both events looked to be roughly 3,000.