H.B. July 4 parade televised for first time

The Huntington Beach Fourth of July parade has been held in the city for 110 years, but Friday marked the first time the annual tradition was broadcast across Southern California.

From 10 a.m. to noon, millions of viewers in the Southland were able to get a glimpse of the iconic pier and see former Atlanta Falcons tight end and Grand Marshall Tony Gonzalez cruise down Main Street from the comfort of their homes.

"We're very happy to be able to share this experience of celebrating America with the rest of Southern California," Mayor Matthew Harper said.

Representatives from local ABC affiliate KABC, which telecasted the event, said Huntington Beach's celebration fits with the station's growing portfolio of community-organized parades.

The station also broadcasts the Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles and the East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade.

"It was pretty unanimous, for both the crews and all the talent out there as well as our management, that it was a great parade," KABC spokeswoman Diane Medina said Tuesday. "It was terrific and was a beautiful program to watch."

She also commended the city for its cooperation as well as the residents who were at the parade on the holiday.

KABC looked at a few other annual parades around Southern California to add to its lineup and chose Surf City's Fourth of July parade because of its grand presence, Medina said.

"They're all wonderful parades, but the Huntington Beach parade really is at a level that's just pretty special," she said. "I looked at videos from past parades, and I could see that it was just a great celebration of patriotism."

City spokeswoman Julie Toledo said KABC wanted the parade to continue unchanged in any way and the city's Fourth of July Board, a committee operated and funded by volunteers, to keep organizing the event as it has done for more than a century.

"We've been working with [KABC] for the last six months to put this together," she said. "It's been a labor of love between the city and our parade committee to really get this together."

In June, Surf City and KABC entered into a one-year agreement to have the television station telecast two hours of the event.

Medina said KABC is already looking toward a new agreement that would allow the station to come back next year.

"We hope that the city will enter into another agreement with us," she said. "Everything was perfect, and all the people from the city that we had to work with were just wonderful and helpful."

The station covered the costs of broadcasting the event, while the Fourth of July Board pays for the parade and the evening fireworks show. It costs about $400,000 each year to organize the festivities.

Board member Karen Pedersen, who has been with the group for 23 years, said she hopes the partnership with KABC will bring in sponsors to help pay for the parade in the future.

She added that having a local station broadcast one of the biggest celebrations in Huntington Beach is long overdue.

"I'm surprised someone hasn't picked it up before because it's been going on for 110 years," said Pedersen, 70, who has not missed the parade since 1944. "It's been basically the same for 110 years. Yes, the cars and people have changed, but it's still a hometown parade. I don't care what Disneyland says, [Huntington Beach] is Main Street, USA, on the Fourth of July."

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