MAIN STREET — Santa Monica’s one and only parade will fill Main Street on July 4 and organizers are encouraging residents to come down to enjoy the floats, music, horses, vintage fire trucks and the camaraderie of Independence Day.
Organizers chose “May the 4th Be With You” as the 2014 theme and they are encouraging participants to use unique and creative ideas for their parade entries in addition to the always popular red, white and blue decorations.
“There are some really zany people that show up, including myself,” said Parade Chair Jeff Jarow. “I get all decked out, I’m like the Elton John of the parade.”
Jarow is also a board member of the Ocean Park Association (OPA) and he said the neighborhood group began organizing the parade to meet a need in the community after prior parades slowly dwindled.
“There was a core group of about nine members,” he said of the first parade committee. “At that time having a parade seemed like an impossibility but we went down that route and every year it keeps building,” he said.
He said OPA likes to work on projects that build community.
“We’re always looking for ways to bring our neighbors together,” he said. “We’ve been very passionate about the neighborhood and bringing people in, it’s a real exciting place.”
Jarow estimated up to 9,000 people will see the parade and beginning at 9:30 a.m. another 1,000 will walk the 1.5 mile route from Pico Boulevard and Main Street, south on Main, turning west on Marine Street, then onto Barnard Way and concluding south of Ocean Park Boulevard.
One of those walking will be Grand Marshall Nathaniel Trives. OPA said the former mayor has worked tirelessly for the city and has held many titles over the years making him a perfect choice.
Local VIPs also participating in the parade include: State Senator Ted Lieu, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor and Councilmembers Gleam Davis, Robert Holbrook, Kevin McKeown, Terry O’Day and Tony Vasquez and members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Also taking part in this year’s parade are former Santa Monica mayors: Judy Abdo, Michael Feinstein, Ruth Goldway, Paul Rosenstein and Bobby Shriver, along with City Manager Rod Gould and Deputy City Manager Elaine Polachek.
Included in the many participants will be Meals on Wheels West, who will also continue their meal deliveries on July 4 despite the holiday.
“We will have two cars and about 20 walkers, they are volunteers and members of the board,” said Director of Community Relations Ellen Rabin. “We enjoy participating because it gives us an opportunity to interface with the community, people yell out at us ‘Meals on Wheels! You saved our grandparents.’ It’s all very positive and community feeling and we are very much a part of the local Santa Monica community.”
Herley Jim Bowling will be walking with his group ONE Santa Monica. The organization will be dressed in a variety of formal attire, such as suits, quinceañera vestidos, prom gowns or tutus in support of their post-parade Fancy Dress Swim. Participants will finish the parade route, then take a brief dip in the ocean while wearing their outfits as a fundraiser for the Malaria Foundation.
Bowling said the parade was fun with a purpose.
“When they started up the Fourth of July parade, we got involved in that with a parade entry and we’ve been involved with that every year since its inception,” he said. “We see a lot of our friends and neighbors, we wave to them, get cheered on by them, it’s great to connect in that way. Who wouldn’t want to be in a parade?”
He said their parade entry would include banners for the group as a means of raising awareness (for more information visit againstmalaria.com/WorldSwim.aspx or contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jarow said other parade entries would include the Wells Fargo stagecoach, representatives from many youth organizations, Miss Santa Monica and many more. He said the event serves as a point of commonality for groups that can sometimes be adversarial.
“We hope groups will be in the parade and people will come and see it,” he said. “We get a lot more sponsors because people know it’s there and it’s a feel good kind of event in a city that can be very controversial. I look at it like a breath of fresh air, something good in the city.”
Parking is available at the Civic Center structure (Fourth Street and Olympic) for $5 but organizers are encouraging residents to walk or ride their bikes to help avoid traffic.