Laguna Beach Parade
The 1st Annual Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade stepped off through our city's streets on February 22, 1967, the fruition of Emily Ross's dream.
A member of the Patience Wright Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Emily wished upon her lucky star one night for a parade that would "instill in our youth love of country and respect for the Flag". With the help of Laguna Beach Exchange Club President Roy Marcom, Jr., DAR Regent Grace Wethe, DAR and Exchange Club members and Karl Koenig, Laguna Beach High School music director, Emily nurtured the parade from infancy to the parade of today.
Grand Marshals of the 1967 event were Walter and Cordelia Knott of Knotts Berry Farm. Walter was a member of the Freedoms Foundation, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, which presented the City of Laguna Beach with an award for the parade concept. Funds raised in the early years helped provide band uniforms for Laguna Beach High School and Karl Koenig was presented the Teacher's Award by the Foundation.
In 1978, Emily Ross moved to Placerville, founded a DAR Chapter and continued her patriotic writing. Emily returned in 1979 to ride in her last parade, wearing a 129-year-old shawl her sea captain grandfather gave her grandmother as a wedding gift. On Memorial Day, 1989, at age 97, Emily joined her lucky star.
The parade has had many willing volunteers through the years (and some not so willing, but they did it anyway). "Lagunatics" who were in the parade as young children are now guiding their children and grandchildren through the line of march. We've had a few near misses with Mother Nature—the 1980 parade was short and damp, but a few stoics marched the route. In 1985, President Hal Werthe made a pre-dawn decision to cancel the parade after an all-night downpour; of course, shortly before 11 a.m. the sun came out!
George Washington's birthday, usually on a weekday, was originally Parade Day, but later the event was held on the Saturday between Lincoln and Washington's birthdays. As that time is now our schools' Spring Break, the parade is held on the first Saturday in March, so Laguna Beach's youth and families can participate. Remember, Emily Ross first created our parade as an occasion to instill patriotic zeal in each of us, youth and adults alike,
So wave that American Flag with pride!
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