File photo FESTIVE: Many in the Fourth of July Parade are known to dress up in silly costumes for the occasion. (Fabian Lewkowicz

By Camille De Beus
Daily Press Intern

The annual Santa Monica Independence Day Parade will take to the streets on the morning of July 4.

The Ocean Park Association will host its 10th annual Fourth of July parade starting at 9:30 a.m. on Main Street.

“I think it’s special this year because we finally figured out the best theme for the parade,” chair and co-founder of the parade, Jeff Jarow, said. “[It’s] back to basics: red, white and blue.”

Despite a return to classics, the parade has evolved in the last decade. Jarow credits this to the increasing awareness of the parade among city residents.

“It’s a downhome, grassroots … parade,” Jarow said. “Everybody in the city always says, ‘I wish Santa Monica was the way it used to be.’ Well, that’s what I bring to the city — ‘the way it used to be’ — a nice, old-fashioned, back to basics Independence Day parade.”

The parade will feature a wide variety of participants: from girl and boy scouts, local bands, organizations such as the Santa Monica Sister Cities Association and Kiwanis, to the high school marching band and politicians.

Some of the VIP appearances include Congressman Ted Lieu, State Senator Ben Allen, Assembly member Richard Bloom, Mayor Tony Vazquez and current City Council members along with a number of former city mayors.

“It brings together everybody in the city,” Jarow said. “It’s not a political event, it’s not a contentious event, it’s just a feel good event. Somebody commented to me the poster only has kids on it, and that there’s no adults on the poster. My response to them was if you’re 80 years old and you come to a parade, you’re a kid. I think that’s the nice thing about the parade: everybody shows up in good spirits.”

One organization that is planning on embodying this spirit in the parade is the Santa Monica Conservancy.

“It’s a great opportunity to show your organization’s community spirit,” Santa Monica Conservancy President Carol Lemlein said. “This year our Annenberg Community Beach House docents took the lead with an Old Hollywood theme. We will have ‘Marion Davies’ and ‘WR Hearst’  riding with ‘Jean Harlow’ in a 1932 Packard that actually belonged to her. ‘Charlie Chaplin’ and ‘Harpo’ will also be there.”

Similarly, Meals on Wheels West will participate in the parade as part of their Independence Day celebration.

“Just as Santa Monica is celebrating 10 years of Ocean Park Association’s July 4th Parade MOW West is celebrating 10 years of our Keeping People and Pets Together program,” Meals on Wheels (MOW) West Executive Director Chris Baca said. “We provide pet food and emergency vet service to our clients that are in need … July 4th is a holiday that everyone embraces. We are thrilled and thankful to participate in the parade. It allows us to express our thanks to the community.”

Jarow encourages everyone to come to the 1.4 mile parade along Main Street. Beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Pico and Main, the parade concludes at the beach parking lot near Barnard Way. Spectators can park in the Civic Center for $5, but are encouraged to walk or bike.

“I drive the Ocean Park float with a band on it, and I really just enjoy looking at everybody’s faces as I drive by down the block,” Jarow said. “There are people dancing on the sidelines … I always tell people to loosen up and get into the spirit of the holiday and show up. It’s free entertainment, and they can have a great time. There’s some foot-stomping music, and it starts off the holiday on the right foot.”