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July 4 Parade Is a Hometown Event:

There is nothing quite like an old-fashioned, hometown, Fourth of July parade on Main Street. And while walking in the parade affords one the distinct advantage of a first person point of view, it also carries the disadvantage of not being able to see the parade.

So it was on Wednesday, July 4, that I missed the First Annual event sponsored by the Ocean Park Association and co-sponsored by the North of Montana Association, even as I participated in the event, helping to carry the Mirror banner down Main Street from City Hall to Marine Street.

In the staging area in front of City Hall, I waited near the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce entrants whom the Mirror was to follow right behind once the parade got underway. John Bohn, the immediate past chairman of the Chamber who rode in one of two new cars supplied for the occasion by Toyota Santa Monica, said that he seemed to recall a Fourth of July parade in town some years ago on Third Street – enough years ago that Third Street had been simply “Third Street.”

Tom Larmore, the Chamber’s newly installed chairman, rode in the other Toyota.

Also in the staging area, I was able to get an up-close look at a couple of other entrants before they moved forward to take their place further to the front of the queue. One was Councilmember Bob Holbrook’s 1916 Model T Ford, which he said he has owned for nearly 20 years. “It should be all black, but I like red so it is two-tone. I also brass-plated a lot of the parts that were originally nickel-plated that year. I just wanted it to look a little snazzier.” Holbrook rode with his wife Jean Ann and Councilmember Bobby Shriver and his wife Malissa.

And then there was the Association for Transplanted New Yorkers Who Love Santa Monica, which had decorated a flatbed trailer with a silhouette of the Manhattan skyline along the sides and a Big red Apple backdrop for a living Statue of Liberty model. Pulling the trailer was a pick-up truck with “NYC Ain’t Got Beach” painted on the door.

As the parade got underway, we passed the Civic Auditorium and its electronic sign advertising upcoming local events (Bead Fair, Cat Show), and made our way down Main Street, whose sidewalks were lined with a surprisingly large number of parade watchers. Especially from Ocean Park Boulevard down to the city limits at Marine Street, the crowd was downright deep at the curbs. It was a small town crowd of friends and neighbors who could have stood in for the residents of River City, Iowa in The Music Man (but for the several carrying “Impeachment Is Patriotic” signs – it is Santa Monica, after all).

For a time, I thought the Mirror contingent was getting more than its fair share of applause as we passed by, until I realized that it was probably intended for the Santa Monica Laughter Club that followed right behind us in the parade. These ladies from Shakti’s Elements (movement and wellness) on Broadway carried a boom box with a laugh track to accompany their own laughter, and it was infectious.

It was all a lot of fun. Both being in the parade and – from the faces on the sidewalk – watching it as well. Next year: a marching band, although the laughter was all right too.

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