By Jorge Casuso
July 3 -- Strike up the band! Ocean Park residents
are staging an old-fashioned Independence Day parade on Main
Street, and as many as 1,000 participants could walk, bicycle,
skate and drive along the route, according to parade organizers.
Started as a modest effort to bring back an old tradition,
the prospect of a parade has unleashed a flood of participants
-- from a float of displaced New Yorkers and dog owners to
Boy and Girl Scouts and the Red Cross, organizers said.
“Holy cow, it’s enormous,” said Joel Brand,
vice president of the Ocean Park Association, which helped
organize the event. “We’ve had a flood of participants
far beyond our hopes and expectations for this first year.”
Brand -- whose organization was joined by the Wilshire/Montana
Neighborhood Coalition (Wilmont) and the North of Montana
Neighborhood Association (NOMA) -- said organizers had originally
expected one or two hundred participants to apply.
On the eve of the event, parade organizers now expect “500
participants, and we could have twice that,” Brand said.
“The idea of a Fourth of July Parade has been lying
there and hasn’t happened,” Brand said. “It’s
a century-old tradition, and it’s time it was revived.
We had no idea what we were getting into.”
Santa Monica’s first Independence Day Parade in nearly
a decade will include traditional contingents from the Santa
Monica Fire and Police Departments, who have marched in local
parades for a century; the Little League and Veterans of Foreign
Council member Bob Holbrook plans to drive the route in his
vintage Model-T Ford, while Mayor Pro Tem Herb Katz will ride
in a fire engine.
There also will be new participants, including 200 members
of the Lighthouse Church and Unleash the Beach, a group of
dog owners advocating an off-leash area on the sand.
The honorary grand marshal will be retiring Roosevelt Elementary
School Principal Jerry Harris, who has worked in the district
for 25 years.
The parade begins July 4th at 9:30 a.m. in front of Santa
Monica City Hall, follows Main Street to Marine and ends in
the south beach parking lot, south of Ocean Park Boulevard
on the beach. The route is approximately 1.7 miles long.
Free parking is available at the Civic Center garage and
surface lot. Vehicles must enter from 4th Street between Olympic
and Pico. Restrooms will be available at the Public Safety
Building behind City Hall.
Spectators, who will view the parade from the sidewalks of
Main Street, are encouraged to walk, bike or use public transit
to get to Main Street, since local parking is limited.
Spectators are advised to bring plenty of water and to wear
sunscreen and hats. A First Aid station hosted by the Red
Cross will be located on the lawn of the Heritage Museum,
on Main just south of Ocean Park Boulevard.
Free parking for both participants and spectators is available
at the Civic Center garage and surface lot beginning at 6
a.m. Those wishing to park closer to the event may wish to
pay to use the beach lots or the metered lots off Neilson
to the west of Main.
Residential streets adjacent to Main Street are permit districts
with restrictions on parking for non-residents.
No parking will be permitted on Main Street between Colorado
and Marine starting at 6 am on the morning of July 4th. Main
Street between Colorado and Pico will be closed starting at
7:30 am for parade staging. The rest of the parade route and
side streets will be closed soon thereafter.
Further information is available at www.opa-sm.org/parade.
Spectators should check the web site the night before the
parade for any late breaking information.