RANCHO SANTA FE — One of the most fun things about the annual Rancho Santa Fe July 4 Parade is that organizers never know who is going to show up and what they will be entering.
“I love the organized chaos of it all,” said Shannon Mountain, one of the organizers of the parade who works for the Association. “There are no rules or limitations. You never know how many people are going to show up, how many cars there will be, how many kids; how many bikes, how many horses. It’s just everybody come as you are. Every year it just keeps getting bigger and better.”
For the 30th year, this little parade has marched through the Village of Rancho Santa Fe in celebration of the country’s birthday. It’s an occasion where just about everyone and their dog — yes their dog, many in costume — turn out to join the celebration.
This year’s grand marshal was Gordy Bartow, one of the organizers of the original parade. He and his wife Sue, dressed in World War II circa Army uniforms, rode in Gordy’s Jeep from that era.
“I think he wanted to be Grand Marshal just to have his Jeep in the parade,” teased Sue.
But on a more serious note, Gordy said he was honored to be chosen for the position.
Many people arrived early to stake out prime spots on the grassy area on Avenida de Acacias, while the PA system was being fine tuned. It blared out some Elvis Presley tunes, including “Jail House Rock,” during the test.
As hundreds of people began to converge on the parade route, setting up chairs and umbrellas, parade participants gathered in the staging area, the parking lot of the Association office. Many were putting last minute decorating touches on their entries.
The Sharpe/Lock/Spalding family was putting the red, white, and blue on their 1962 Thunderbird while Laura Valentine Lock stood by to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” to kick off the parade.
The Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club pulled out all the stops, decorating with flowers a full-sized trolley car.
Boy Scout Pack 766, dressed in their uniforms, began lining up and the Reasons family — Koki, Richard and Rhett and their dog Papa — decorated their golf cart.
The parade started with a Marine Color Guard followed by entries from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department. Following were cars, tractors, golf carts, trucks and even an all electric car that attracted a lot of attention.
Hundreds of kids on decorated bikes, scooters, skateboards and peddle cars were lined up, waiting for the signal for them to be let loose to ride up the parade route, which is one of the most popular parts of the event.
Augusta Newman said she had not come out to a parade since her children were small, but had this year, one of the reasons being the Coastal Community Concert Band that would play later during the picnic.
“I love them,” she said.
Mountain said because of financial considerations, the Association played a larger role in this year’s parade, but she said she enjoyed working with Chaco Clotfelter, another of the organizers.
“It was a lot of fun working with everyone in the community to make this happen,” Mountain said.