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UPDATED: The-Signal.com's Fourth of July 411

Independence Day blasts into the Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: July 1, 2009 5:08 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2009 10:50 a.m.

SCV Rotarians flip flapjacks for as many as 700 hungry parade-goers before the procession begins at 9 a.m., an hour earlier this year.

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It's time for bunting and flags, for pancake breakfasts and 5K runs, for fireworks and an old-fashioned parade as the Santa Clarita Valley celebrates what may be its favorite holiday - Independence Day - with festivities all day long Saturday.

Perhaps the biggest Fourth of July event of all in the Santa Clarita Valley is the annual parade in Newhall, this year celebrating its 77th anniversary.

Long on patriotism and tradition, the parade includes horses, floats, members of the military, music, families, bicycles, balloons - and everything else in between.

The theme for 2009 is "Fun in the SCV."

To beat the heat, parade organizers have moved up the start time by nearly an hour. The parade steps off at 9 a.m. on Main Street in downtown Newhall in front of Hart Park. That's an hour earlier than previous years.

If the past is any guide, the parade is likely to feature some 90 entries, 2,000 participants and more than 25,000 spectators.

In keeping with the "Fun in the SCV" theme, this year's title sponsor is Six Flags Magic Mountain and the "fun sponsor" is Mountasia Family Fun Center in Santa Clarita.

The parade is organized by an all-volunteer committee and co-sponsored by the city of Santa Clarita.

"It's the biggest small-town parade anywhere," said Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who is also part of the parade committee and one of the judges. She and fellow Councilwoman Marsha McLean will ride in an old-fashioned horse and buggy.

Councilman Bob Kellar and his "sidekick," City Manager Ken Pulskamp, will ride the parade on horseback - as usual.

Duane Harte, vice chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Parade Committee, confirmed other dignitaries would include Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth. Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry will be out of town for the Fourth.

On Saturday, Harte will be responsible for rounding up the vehicles and VIPs before the parade.

"I get to tell all the elected officials where to go and what to do," he laughed.

Harte said overall it's the experienced committee members and dedicated volunteers who make the parade such a success every year.

"It's the one place the entire community can shine a spotlight on itself," said Leon Worden, chairman of the parade committee. "It's what Old Town Newhall is all about."

Parade route
The SCV Fourth of July Parade runs north along Main Street (formerly San Fernando Road) from 5th Street to Lyons Avenue. It turns west on Lyons and then north onto Orchard Village Road, ending at 16th Street.

(For detours around the parade route, see the map on page 11 of the Official Program).

"The nice thing this year is we will have a big part of the redevelopment and rededication of two blocks of Main Street all cleaned up and ready for the parade by the Fourth of July," Harte said.

Street closures
On Saturday morning beginning at approximately 7 a.m., Main Street will be closed in both directions from Pine Street to Lyons Avenue; Lyons in both directions from San Fernando Road to Orchard Village Road; and Orchard in both directions from Lyons to 16th Street.

Pancakes and a 5K
Since the parade starts almost one hour earlier this year, spectators should plan to get to their favorite viewing sites early.

It's been suggested that those who hope to park in the immediate area arrive by 6 a.m.

But that's not too early - the day's events kick off with a 6:30 a.m. pancake breakfast at the Roger Dunn Golf Shop parking lot on Main Street between 5th and 6th streets, hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club.

For $4, you can get pancakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee - a bargain anywhere. Rotarians usually feed about 700 folks Independence Day morning, so get there early.

A 5K run and non-competitive 5K walk, both hosted by Santa Clarita Runners, are scheduled from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. to run along the parade route in reverse. The run begins and ends at Newhall Park.

Race day registration fees are $35, and $10 for the Kiddie K. Entry forms are available at local fitness centers, sporting goods stores or at scrunners.org

Main event
At 9 a.m. it'll be time for the main event, when some 2,000 kids and adults will walk, ride, roller-skate and otherwise amble down the parade route in Old Town Newhall, as they've done as far back as 1932.

Worden extended his thanks to the Greater SCV Optimist Club, which he said will provide registration on the morning of the parade and organize the procession.

"They're in charge of making it all work seamlessly," he said.

Parade rules
Parade watchers can expect some fun and new sights, and also traditional entries. Organizing activities begin at 6 a.m. at Newhall's Veterans Historical Plaza (The Walnut-Market-Newhall Avenue "triangle"). If you're in the parade, arrive before 7:30 a.m. Registration closes at 8:30 a.m.

If you're planning to be a spectator, leave the Silly String and Super Soakers at home. Worden explains that while you can "possess" them, under a city ordinance that the Sheriff's Department will enforce, you can't shoot them into the line of march.
 
"They ruin antique cars and spook the horses," he said. "Play it straight and you're guaranteed to have a great time."

Best theme
What is the theme - "Fun in the SCV" - actually supposed to mean?

According to Worden, it's whatever you want it to mean.

"We want you to have a good time on the Fourth of July," he wrote on the official parade Web site, scvparade.com. "And it would be great if you'd come up with something that will put a smile on the faces of your spectators."

In addition to the specific theme for 2009, there is always a second and equally important "permanent" theme for the annual parade - celebrating America's independence, Worden said. Ideally, entries should reflect entrants' own interpretations of one or both of the themes.

To determine who has done what best, the judges for the 2009 parade (as of 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 1) will be Councilwoman Laurene Weste and her co-chair James McCarthy, equestrian judge Laura Hauser, Linda Lambourne, Steve Lambourne, Dennis Ostrom, Sue Ostrom, Spencer Leafdale, Glo Donnelly, Patty Kelly, R.J. Kelly, Linda Tarnoff and Pat Willett.

If you want to hear the parade commentary, be sure to station yourself near one of the seven announcers' booths set up along the route. The announcers scheduled to keep the parade on time and the commentary clever are Connie Worden-Roberts, Linda Storli, Billy Davis, Bruce Fortine, George Cummings, Margie Cummings, Gloria Mercado-Fortine, Bill Kennedy, Cathy Kennedy, Tim Myers, Carol Rock, Kirk Stinson, Nicole Stinson and M. Teresa Todd.

Entries
While watching the parade, look out for some of last year's winners, including the L.A. County Sheriff's Mounted Posse, the Sunset Equestrian Team Color Guard, the MRCA Volunteer Mounted Patrol, Newhall Trail Riders, and of course, Cherries, the mini trick horse.

Let's see if someone can top last year's Sweepstakes winner, the Northpark Community Church/Trinity Academy, or last year's Best of Theme, Cub Scout Pack 2.

Car groups to look for include the SCV Antique Auto Club and the San Fernando Valley Model A Club. The 2008 winners in the "Do-Dah"-style category were the Lazy Boys of Santa Clarita, Emeritus College Computer Students and Idea-Yes.com.

Also watch for the talented kids from the Canyon Theatre Guild and the Hart High cheer team. And give an especially big cheer to everyone from the Old West Masonic Lodge No. 813, the Vietnam Vets Lost Patrol/California National Guard, and the Order of the Arrow, Serrano Chapter (BSA) and Cub Scout Pack 584.

Close to home
"I have participated in the parade under different organizations, the Canyon Theatre Guild, on environmental floats, as part of Old Town Newhall and as a council member since 2002," Marsha McLean said.

"I think being able to celebrate in your own community is fantastic. I think it is even more important today that it has been in the past."

McLean says she likes the idea of scheduling the parade earlier in the morning. She and Weste usually share an open horse-drawn wagon.

"It's mostly always hot during the parade," she said. "Whenever we walk, it's always challenging to follow the horses.

"The horse-and-carriage people think they are doing everyone a favor by putting these bags underneath the horses, but I kept smelling this smell. I asked at the end of the parade, ‘How come we are always smelling this smell?' because after 45 minutes in the parade it gets quite pungent."

After the parade
While there is nothing official planned in Newhall Park following the parade this year, there is ample time to eat, play or just hang out until the fireworks begin.

Be sure to stick around to see which floats receive awards.

Fireworks will be visible on the west side of town after 9:15 p.m., when the city of Santa Clarita hosts a show at Westfield Valencia Town Center.

There is also an all-day event and big fireworks show at Castaic Lake, where admission is charged. (For details, see page 13 of the Official Program.)

Another "after parade" event will be the Fourth of July celebration at 2 p.m. held at VFW Veterans Post 6885 at 16208 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country.

Barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs will be offered, along with homemade side dishes and desert. This is a family event and current enlisted military personnel eat free all day.

Live entertainment will also be featured on the VFW stage from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and from 8 p.m. to midnight. For more information, visit www.vfw.org.

Picnic & carnival
Bristol Farms and Bridgeport Marketplace will also host a post-parade Fourth of July Picnic & Carnival on the corner of McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road. In addition to a barbecue and sweet goodies, this family event will feature a dunk tank, and petting zoo, pony rides for the children, a pie-eating contest and other carnival games.

Admission is free and the event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seventy-five percent of carnival booth ticket sales will be donated to local charities.

One word of caution from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Sheriff's Department: Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Whether you live in the city or unincorporated areas of the county, all types of fireworks - from big bottle rockets to little sparklers - are illegal and dangerous.

Yes, on Saturday there will be more people coming out to play and have fun in the SCV than perhaps any other day of the year.

"Living here in Santa Clarita, I am reminded every day of the spirit and pride that makes this nation great," Councilwoman Laurie Ender said.

"It's an honor to serve this community as council member, and I am thankful to live in this amazing community we all call home."

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