Perennial Favorite

South Gate's 30th annual Azalea Festival Parade begins at 1 p.m. today at the corner of California Avenue and Tweedy Boulevard. The parade will proceed down Tweedy before concluding at South Gate Park.

Margaret Travis and John (Papa) Maloney, this year's queen and grand marshal, respectively, preside over the 250 parade entries, which include 12 marching bands and drill teams from area schools and 10 equestrian units from throughout the county.

The Azalea queen and grand marshal are two senior citizens selected by the community for their civic contributions. The festival, which is named after the city's official flower, follows a different theme every year.

This year, the festival organizers chose "Early California," and events such as Monday night's "Gold Diggers" bingo competition reflects the theme.

After the parade, Azalea Festival activities continue until 11 p.m. at South Gate Park with the Azalea Carnival. Parade awards will be handed out at the carnival, which features thrill rides, game booths and food and drinks.

Azalea Festival, South Gate Park, 4900 Southern Ave. Various activities at the park's auditorium and the Hollydale Equestrian Center; through March 19; (213) 563-5443.

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