A PEEK BACK IN TIME TO THE WAY WE WERE
by Barbara Fish (2009)
Each year Hacienda Blvd and Stimson Ave. become colorful, exciting streets when the utility pole banners go up for the annual July 4th parade. The banners wave to show pride in our nation and signal the upcoming parade on the 4th of July. Ten years ago an effort to better fund the parade was started. Community leaders and local businessmen have their names put on banners to show their support for the parade. We have acquired
5 Division Sponsors; their large banners are carried by local boy scouts in the parade. Our parade is now over twenty two years old.
The parade is planned by an all volunteer parade committee, and sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Hacienda Heights.
It is a source of pride that (unless a business advertisement appears on the float), there is no entry fee. With the help of banner supporters and L.A. County Supervisor Knabe, the I Love America parade is still going strong. The faces of the parade committee have changed over the years,
but the desire to honor our country and provide a way to celebrate our nations birthday goes on.
The first parade was in 1988 and was planned in two months! The idea was suggested by Barbara Fish to Keith Cooper and Bill Lynch,
President of the Hacienda Heights Kiwanis Club, who presented the idea to Kiwanis members to sponsor the event. Insurance had been the
major issue holding back the idea. After considering the pitfalls, the Kiwanis Club agreed to work with community groups.
Kiwanis member Keith Cooper, then Public Affairs Director of United Artists Cable Television, worked hard to flesh out the plans and
have the Hacienda Heights parade videotaped for community television. Keith also presented a $1,000.00 check on his cable television show
"Your Town," to Tom Rathman, the very first Parade Chairman. It was to be called the I Love America parade with the same theme each year.
The committee decided to have the parade on Stimson ave, a very safe street. The original plan to march on Colima/Hacienda was considered
too long for youth groups to march. Only two of the original planning committee, Ken Kim and Barbara Fish are still active.
The first parade was amazing. The entries were special such as a mule drawn wagon entry, clowns, antique cars, church groups, marching
community groups, equestrians, school kids and our two high school bands. Later, Gil Adams would form a Wilson Alumni band and that would
make three we could always count on. In order to be fair, the high schools take turns being the 1st Division band and the Alumni band is last by their request. In retrospect, it remains one of the best parades. There was no money then so cardboard was donated by Irene Kubo and the signs were made with stencils! Ideas were presented in the parade that would shape Hacienda Heights. For example a recycling entry which reminded people
of our landfill problem. Well known residents decorated trash cans with recycling items and marched down the street in them. FUN! Each year
new entries were encouraged to name just a few, we had Striker the Mascot for the Soccer World Cup in the seventh parade. Wells Fargo
brought their stage coach and famous horses. The Navy's model ship was in for several years. And an Air Force model was also in the parade.
Equestrian riders, especially the Mexican Charro groups were a favorite. The Shriner clowns drove their Tin Lizzies. We have local clowns and
also the Elks club clowns. Solar cars were entered by Los Altos High School and Cal Poly. Amazing multi - ethnic entries marched and put pride
into the diversity of our community. The creativity of the people has been remarkable and rarely is a lot of money put into the entries.
The judging was started in the later years. Kathleen Pensak and committee members set up criteria to get residents to compete for trophies.
In 1994, The Jim Davis Beautification Day, was begun. The weekend prior to the parade is a clean up day along the parade route and
other streets.The community is spotless and the crowds appreciate that and leave NO trash.
As the parade went on, a Queen and Court was desired and they are elected at the Kiwanis Club Rib Fest every year.
Last year, they rode in a beautiful horse drawn Cinderella carriage.
Over the last 15 years. Mary Ann King and Ken Manning became the voice of the I Love America parade on cable TV.
Their first effort began in 1990. Unfortunately, Ken has moved away, and Mary Ann has retired. The residents along Stimson Ave have
been generous in supporting the parade closing off their street for half a day. The parade is never on Sunday since several
churches are along the parade route.
Once the event is over, people congregate at Steinmetz Park for fun. The Post Parade activities start with listening to the High School bands,
a few speeches are made and trophies are given out for the best entries. Youth groups have their tents set-up for food, drinks and kiddy rides.
The committee evaluates the parade at a later date and then, in the month of January, a new parade starts to take shape. It is open to all
including residents from other communities. In 1999 a survey was taken on what people liked most. And the planning goes on.
What a marvelous tribute for a small community to make to celebrate our community's people and our great country.
"I Love America". . . . . . Barbara Fish (1928 - 2010)