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‘She’s the epitome of Burbank’: Sandy Dennis, co-founder of revived Burbank on Parade, passes away at 75

‘She’s the epitome of Burbank’: Sandy Dennis, co-founder of revived Burbank on Parade, passes away at 75
Burbank on Parade co-founder and lifelong Burbank resident Sandy Dennis passed away on March 16. She was 75 years old. (Photo courtesy of Marie Dennis)

Lifelong Burbank resident Sandra "Sandy" Dennis made it her goal to make sure those in Burbank were well taken care of, and those around her believe she did just that.

Dennis, one of the co-founders of the second iteration of Burbank on Parade, passed away on March 16 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center from complications due to hip surgery. She was 75 years old.

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Her funeral service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Her family asks that donations to the Providence St. Joseph Foundation and the Disney Cancer Center be made instead of flowers.

The Burbank Junior Chamber of Commerce put on the first Burbank on Parade in 1945.

The festivity was an annual event that was enjoyed by many residents each year, but it lasted only 12 years. However, Dennis decided to revive the event in 1981 to give the city a renewed sense of pride.

Sally Hooper, a close friend of Dennis and a co-founder of the parade's reboot, said Dennis and her husband, Don, came over one night and told her that they were going to bring back the event and wanted to see if she and her husband wanted to be in on it.

"It was her bright idea, and we said 'yes,'" Hooper said.

Bumps are to be expected when organizing an event that had not been held for decades, a sentiment which rang true for Dennis and Hooper during their first parade together in 1981.

Circus Vargas had been invited to participate in the parade and have its performers, and some of its animals, walk down the route.

Everything was going smoothly until the Circus Vargas performers decided to go down the parade route starting from the end of it, which did not bode well for the elephants at the beginning of the route.

"When they got to our end, they were told to go back right away because the elephants were going to stampede," Hooper said.

They learned from their mistake, finished the parade and proceeded to organize many more parades over the years.

"Burbank on Parade, for Sandy, meant hometown pride," said Hooper, who now lives in Indio.

"We made a decision very early on to make it a hometown parade, where tiny tots can be in it. We didn't want it to become the Hollywood [Christmas] Parade or any of those. We wanted to keep it for Burbank, and that was very important to her," she added.

In addition to helping organize Burbank on Parade every year, Dennis spent more than 40 years working in real estate for Century 21 with another close friend, Renee Hoenig.

Hoenig, who now lives in Surprise, Ariz., said that Dennis was the person that everyone knew and loved, and she knew almost everyone in Burbank.

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"She was the epitome of Burbank," Hoenig said. "She just represented everything that was good about Burbank. She loved the city and the people, and she put countless hours into the parade. She was the heart and soul of Burbank."

After nearly four decades, organizers announced in December an end to Burbank on Parade, citing rising costs associated with public safety.

Dennis is survived by her son, Michael, daughter-in-law, Marie, and her brothers Bill, Dave and Mike Hormuth.

Twitter: @acocarpio

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