OCEAN PARK — Environmental watchdog Heal the Bay has been named this year’s grand marshal of the Santa Monica Main Street Fourth of July Parade, event organizers announced Tuesday.

The 4 year-old parade is organized by the Ocean Park Association and attracted nearly 1,000 participants last year and an estimated 10,000 spectators along its Main Street route.

“When our peerless leader Lori Nafshun proposed Heal the Bay as grand marshal, the vote was swift and unanimous,” said OPA Vice President Ted Winterer. “What better choice could there be than Heal the Bay, which for 25 years has endeavored with such great success to improve the water quality at our local beaches?”

The parade was formed at the urging of local residents who wanted both a community parade and a Fourth of July celebration that actually falls on the July 4th.

Past grand marshals include Santa Monica Police Chief Tim Jackman, retired Santa Monica Fire Chief Jim Hone and retired Roosevelt Elementary Principal Jerry Harris.

“As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we couldn’t be more proud to serve as grand marshal … in our hometown,” said Karin Hall, executive director of Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay. “The people of Santa Monica have provided us with so much support over the years in our fight to keep our local oceans clean and healthy. We are blessed to be part of such a thoughtful, progressive community.”

The parade has gained a loyal following among Santa Monica residents with its small-town, informal feel. In past years featured groups have included the Euclideans, toga-clad neighbors who live on Euclid Street; a procession of ex-mayors; and the “New York Transplants who Love Santa Monica.” Rumor has it this year’s entrants will include “The Ocean Park Housewives.”

Residents, groups and business interested in participating in the parade or becoming a sponsor should visit www.opa-sm.org or e-mail parade@opa-sm.org.

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