The aroma of freshly cooked corn filled the air, trumpets blared and horses clip-clopped on the pavement to the cheers of thousands of people who lined the streets Saturday for the 42nd annual La Habra Corn Festival parade.
The parade highlights the two-day festival, with marching bands, drill teams, floats, bicycle-riding Boy Scouts and Shriners showing off their prize miniature automobiles.
“This started out as a small event without a parade, but has grown throughout the years,” said festival chairman Chuck Overby of the La Habra Hosts Lions Club.
More than 60,000 people attended last year’s festival, and about the same number were expected on Friday and Saturday.
The festival, which organizers say evolved in the 1940s because many residents were then Midwesterners from the Corn Belt, has become the local Lions’ single largest fund-raising event, bringing in a profit each year of more than $30,000. Proceeds are distributed among the community’s nonprofit organizations, especially local boys’ and girls’ clubs.
“This event is run by the Lions Club, but it is a full-town event,” Overby said. Other community, nonprofit groups such as local chapters of Kiwanis International, Rotary International and the Chamber of Commerce also set up fund-raising booths.
Other activities included carnival rides, games and refreshments of all types. Fair-goers seemed to shun more traditional items such as hamburgers, corn dogs and pizza in favor of corn on the cob, which vendors sold for $1 an ear. Organizers expected to sell all 20,000 ears Saturday before the festival closed at midnight.
“It’s just a great event because it supports all the charitable activities in La Habra,” said resident Bryan Campbell, who along with his wife walked away from a game booth with a dozen new glasses. “We have been coming for the last four years.”
In addition to providing entertainment to those who came to watch, the parade was a competition for many of its 200 entrants.
Repeating as this year’s musical sweepstakes winner was the Santa Ana Winds Marching Band. Other winners were the Church of Northside in La Habra for the best float and the Watts Trooperettes, who took the top prize in the drill team competition.
The Sunshine Generation--a musical and theatrical group featuring youths ages 3 to 18 from La Habra, Hacienda Heights and Whittier--received the Mayor’s Trophy for the best local entry.