By Jackie HOUCHIN
Despite firecracker-hot weather, Sunland-Tujunga locals lined Foothill Boulevard from Mt. Gleason to Sunland Park on Monday to applaud more than 60 entries in the community’s 29th Annual 4th of July Parade.
A fly-over by police helicopters got the parade rolling promptly at 10 a.m. Local music teacher Graham “Genius” Allen, dressed in Scottish kilts and playing the bagpipes, rode his unicycle in front of the official Sunland-Tujunga/Shadow Hills Rotary Club’s street-wide parade banner.
“It’s a Grand Ole Flag,” played by the Verdugo Hills High School Marching Dons Band, started spectators clapping and waving flags while uniformed students from the Verdugo Hills High JROTC Training Corp marched as Color guard. The San Fernando Rangers also carried the Colors on horseback.
Boy Scout Troop #317 carried the gigantic 20-by-30 foot Fort Sumter garrison flag horizontally as they marched. Boy Scout Troop #307 and a delegation of Girl Scouts were also represented.
American flags streamed over the Tujunga Little League float while Little League passengers doused the crowd with water-pumping guns. Later, 17 high-stepping elementary girls holding cards that spelled Apperson Drill Team received wild applause.
Throughout the parade, polished and decorated convertibles carried waving dignitaries: Grand Marshal Dan McManus; Marine Cpl. Megan Morse representing Congressman Brad Sherman’s office; Rotary District Governor Drew Froehlich; current S-T Honorary Mayor Catherine Vaananen; Poet Lauriat Maja Trochimczyk; and S-T Chamber of Commerce President Sonia Tatulian.
Favorites with the kids in the audience were police and other official vehicles that could be persuaded to sound their sirens and the fire and forestry department trucks that would toss water balloons and Frisbees at them or hose them down.
LAPD Lead Officer Larry Martinez, an encouraging, informative and friendly presence in the Sunland-Tujunga community, brought cheers and loud cries of “thank you” as he waved from his police cruiser.
Several causes dear to the community’s heart were represented: Hometown Heroes Banners, Save the Golf Course and Preserve Rancho-Tujunga, as well as a number of local churches who promoted youth groups, musicians and Vacation Bible School.
Motorcycles and ATVs from Izzy’s Cycles and the Shamrock Motorcycle Club zoomed between floats and cars, occasionally wowing the kids with wheelies and donuts.
The Lions Club brought their watermelon float and David Long paraded his “Oldest Rock in Tujunga.” The Little Landers Historical Society and Bolton Hall came in old-time, pioneer costumes.
As the parade wound down, a big yellow City of Los Angeles street sweeper, spraying water from both sides, brought up the rear, no doubt on its way to cleanse Foothill Boulevard of its popped confetti, streamers, candy wrappers, soda cans and empty water bottles.
The patriotic parade-goers packed lawn chairs, umbrellas, and coolers, pushed strollers and walked dogs back to their cars, sharing a sense of community pride and ready for barbecue and fireworks.