By Mary O’KEEFE
The 35th Annual Christmas Parade will roll down Honolulu Avenue on Dec. 3 at 6:10 p.m.
This year’s grand marshals are Jack and Helen Nethercutt who will be riding in their red 1934 Packard LeBaron Sport Phaeton “Hussy” car.
Jack is the great-nephew of cosmetic founder Merle Norman and the son of J.B. Nethercutt. His dad and mom, Dorothy, began their love affair with the automobile shortly after they were married in 1933.
J.B. began his car collection with two cars: a 1936 Duesenberg Convertible Roadster and a 1930 DuPont Town Car. The cars were meticulously rebuilt and over the years his cars had won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance six times, more than any other individual. The collection continued to grow and Jack continued his parents legacy. His love of cars was not limited to restoration, however, but driving as well.
“I started racing cars and drove for 12 years,” Jack said. “I was always interested in cars.”
His interest covered everything from fast cars to antique vehicles.
Jack added his own twist to the ample collection by bringing in classic cars like the 1957 Corvette he is restoring now.
Four of the Nethercutt Collection cars will be in the Montrose Christmas Parade: a 1911 Moon touring car, a 1911 Pope Hartford seven passenger touring car, a 1932 Chrysler custom Imperial convertible sedan and the Hussy.
The 911 Pope Hartford was the first car Jack drove in the Rose Parade but the Hussy is probably the car that will get the most attention, he said.
The Hussy, named after the original owner of the vehicle Don Hussey, was restored and Jack had it painted a deep red. That red has sparked a lot of interest, Jack said.
“We have just came out with a [Merle Norman] campaign,” he said. “It all started when I painted the car and women [would tell me] they would like to have that color in a lip stick or nail polish.”
Although the parade will be at night, the brilliant red color should still shine through, as long time employee and local resident Roger Morrison will drive the Nethercutts down the parade path.
In fact it was Morrison who first asked Jack if he could borrow one of the vehicles from the collection for “the town home parade.”
That was four years ago, and since then two other employees have asked and driven Nethercutt cars in the parade. Those employees also live in the area.
Jack said he and his wife are excited about being grand marshals for the parade they have heard so much about.
“I am practicing my [royal] wave,” he joked.
In addition to the grand marshals, there will also be Junior Grand Marshal Gavin Dinger.
“He is very excited,” said Heather Dinger, Gavin’s mother.
When Gavin was in utero he had a stroke. His parents were not aware of this until after his birth.
“There was no indication of any trauma until he was 7 months old,” Heather said.
He has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, however nothing has slowed this active 8-year-old.
He is a swimmer, and is a member of the Oakmont Country Club swim team. He has played two years of T-ball, and one year with the YMCA basketball team. Most recently he’s taken up horseback riding.
Gavin will be riding the horse he has been training on, named Pumpkin, in the parade along with his trainer Eva Lund.
“We are extremely proud of him,” Heather said.
Heather and Gavin’s twin brothers Carl and Hayden will be riding in the vehicle behind the junior marshal.
Rick Dinger, Gavin’s dad, has been the announcer for the parade for years and will this year be able to announce his son as junior grand marshal.
Classmates at his school, St. Bede Venerable School, are planning on coming to the parade.
For those who cannot make the parade in person, it will be televised live this year on Charter station 382 and is scheduled to be live streamed on the parade’s website at www.montrosechristmasparade.com.
“That is going to a change from past years,” said Steve Pierce, parade coordinator.
This is the fifth year Pierce as acted as coordinator.
“When I started, there were about 15,000 to 16,000 people that attended the parade. Now we are expecting up to 30,000 this year,” he said. “Last year we had about 24,000 people.”
The parade has become the biggest, small town event in Montrose. Pierce said he thinks the popularity of the parade is because it still has a small town feel.
“We will always have tiny tots and Girl and Boy Scout troops and local bands,” Pierce added.
The parade began when actor Dennis Morgan gathered some of his friends to ride down the street. Its popularity waned a little, then the event was picked up and organized by Frank Roberts in 1976, Pierce said.
The parade is sponsored by the city of Glendale and local businesses but is also supported by community members.
“We will get the applications for a Scout troop that wants to be in the parade and they will include a check for $100,” Pierce said.
He added the parade committee receives many small donations from local organizations. They also receive help from the community members and local clubs. To organize and get the floats, horses, bands and Scouts down Honolulu Avenue takes a lot of volunteers.
“We have over 115 volunteers that are directly involved with the parade,” he said. Of the 115, roughly 90 volunteers are students working through Prom Plus.
This year there will be also be a change in the cars that dignitaries will be riding in with a car for every entry.
“In the past we had to use the same car two, sometimes three times,” Pierce said.
This year however Dwight Sityar and drivers from the Early Rodders car club will be supplying classic transportation for dignitaries.
The parade begins at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday at Rosemont and Honolulu avenues. Road closures along the parade route begin at 3 p.m.