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The Peninsula Youth on Parade exhibits a real feeling of community

The Palos Verdes Peninsula’s youth bands, drill teams, baton twirlers, rhythmic gymnasts and the like travel as near as San Pedro and as far as Bulgaria to show their stuff in competition.

But does the hometown crowd get to see them? Not often enough, say the organizers of Peninsula Youth on Parade. And for nine years, they’ve been trying to remedy that with an annual parade through Peninsula Center in Rolling Hills Estates.

This year’s edition steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday from the Norris Community Theatre. About 2,500 people in 108 units--walking, riding in cars and carrying banners--will parade from the theater to the Rolling Hills High School football field in about an hour.

“We should see our own kids here in Palos Verdes,” said parade co-chairwoman Brigitte Shuegraf, a 20-year peninsula resident whose three children attended local schools. “We don’t judge or give out prizes because it’s not a competition, but a showcase. Each one is equal.”

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While musicians and performers will give the parade its pizazz, there will be plenty of children on parade for doting parents to wave at. “This has become a performing arts event,” Shuegraf said.

Children from elementary through high school age will be marching, along with adult members of organizations that sponsor youth activities.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula 4-H Club will parade with goats and a llama. Boy Scout troops will march with flags. The Girl Scouts will have a clown pass out balloons. Malaga Cove Intermediate School has built a float.

From the Norris, the parade will move east on Deep Valley Drive, jog north on Dry Bank Drive to Silver Spur Road, and then continue west on Silver Spur to the high school.

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“This is real special for us,” said Laura Fay, a 17-year-old member of the Palos Verdes High School drill team, which wears red velvet uniforms and will perform dance routines and formations in the parade. “We get to see our friends, and it’s a thrill to show off in our own community.”

Drill team instructor Rosemary Muilenburg said the 43 girls on the team work two to three hours every afternoon to perfect their routines, and said they deserve the recognition. “Most people in the community haven’t the vaguest notion what they do,” she said.

The parade will be followed by a band and drill team field show at the high school. After that, young people will perform at the Norris and at the Shops at Palos Verdes, formerly Courtyard Mall. The entertainment will range from ice skating and gymnastics to orchestra music, dance and drama.

“We’ve been in the parade every year, and it’s a marvelous thing,” said Jolie Barretta, coach of the West Coast Waves, a rhythmic gymnastics group of 24 girls between the ages of 6 and 16 who work out in Rolling Hills Estates.

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The youngsters perform graceful dances and acrobatic turns and leaps while tossing rope, hoops, balls and clubs. “It’s a sport that takes a lot of timing, but it’s also an art form creating visual patterns,” Barretta said. It also a sport that has taken the group to Bulgaria, Mexico and Canada.

She said the parade has a real feeling of community. “The youth of this community is so active. There is so much going on, they deserve to be celebrated,” she said.

This year’s parade theme is “Peninsula International,” calling attention to the ethnic changes under way on the peninsula, once almost entirely Anglo. Flags of 72 countries will be carried, marking the birthplaces of 1,500 children attending peninsula schools.

“This speaks to what the community has become and is why the theme was chosen,” said Janet Baszile of the Community Assn. of the Peninsula’s Multicultural Committee, who is coordinating the flag event. She said the largest number of foreign-born students are Japanese, followed by Taiwanese and Hong Kong Chinese, Koreans and Iranians.

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Budgeted at $5,000, the parade is paid for through sale of souvenir pins--an idea borrowed from the 1984 Olympics--and by donations from community organizations and businesses, from individuals and the four peninsula cities. Most of the money goes for liability insurance and traffic control.

“More people are involved in Youth on Parade than in any other one activity on the peninsula,” said John LeFevre, a Boy Scout leader and co-chairman of the parade. “The community can see that these are our bands, our schools, our youth groups.”

What: Peninsula Youth on Parade.

When: Saturday 10 a.m.

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Where: Peninsula Center, Rolling Hills Estates.

Admission: Free.

Information: 541-2025; 377-4478.


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