Father Christian Mondor has been named community grand marshal for this year's Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade, which means he won't be riding on his usual float with other religious leaders.
But he can still have the horse-drawn trolley — and the banjo, if he wants.
The 87-year-old vicar emeritus at Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church has a history of riding in Surf City's annual parade with the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council. In recent years, he's sat in his Franciscan friar's robe with representatives from Judaism, Islam and other faiths, cradling a banjo and strumming along with Beach Boys and Jan and Dean tunes.
A few days ago, Mondor learned that the city's Fourth of July committee had unanimously chosen him to be this year's community grand marshal, a title given to a Huntington resident who is active in the community. The committee hopes to set him with family and friends on a horse-drawn trolley again, and Mondor may garnish it with a surfboard in honor of the city's cultural heritage.
"I consider it a great honor, really," said Mondor, who has lived in Surf City since 1990. "I'm honored to be able to do this."
Pat Stier, the director of the city's Fourth of July festivities, said her committee chose Mondor out of nine final candidates. His work with the church as well as the annual Blessing of the Waves, in which local religious leaders lead a prayer over the water in Huntington, helped put him on top.
Mondor has also served as president of the interfaith council, on the advisory board for the Huntington Beach Council on Aging and on the planning committee for the city's centennial celebration.
"He was a good choice," Stier said. "Everyone seemed to like the idea of having him."
Mondor, a lifelong surfer, will be joined at the parade by actor Patrick Warburton, who has been named celebrity grand marshal; actress Stefanie Scott, the teen grand marshal; radio hosts Tim Conway Jr. and Gary Bryan, the celebrity guests; and surfer Peter "PT" Townend, the sports guest.
The parade, now in its 108th year, predates the city itself. For Mondor, it signifies another anniversary: Sts. Simon & Jude became an organized parish in 1912.
At the Blessing of the Waves, Mondor honors both religion and surfing culture by wearing a wetsuit under his friar's robe. He expects to wear the robe on the Fourth of July, but will probably pass on the other one.
"It'll be pretty hot for the wetsuit with my robe on under it," he said.