Balboa Island Parade, ‘Island Rodeo,’ draws record crowd this year
Thousands of spectators crowded onto the Balboa Island bridge and Marine Avenue late Sunday morning under low clouds to take in the 28th annual Balboa Island Parade.
This year’s crowd reached nearly 5,000, a record number for the event, according to Jack Callahan, a longtime member of the Balboa Island Improvement Assn. and its parade committee, who served as grand marshal.
In keeping with last year’s popular theme, “Island Rodeo — Boots, Chaps and Cowboy Hats,” the theme for this year’s parade, which is sponsored annually by the Balboa Island Improvement Assn., was “Horsin’ Around Island Style.”
Newport Coast residents Jim and Linnea Graves chose to view the parade perched on a planter wall bordering the Newport Beach Yacht Club on the corner of Bayside Drive and the entrance to Balboa Island so they could catch the start of the spectacle “before it gets too crazy getting onto the center of Marine,” Linnea said. “We came to support the Balboa Island Improvement Assn. They do such a great job.”
First-time volunteer Cori Doughty, who helped with the staging area, getting participants in line, then cleaning up and whatever else was needed, said she was impressed with the efficiency of the operation. “It’s seamless. Jack [Callahan, the organizer] ensures everything runs smoothly,” Doughty said. She said her volunteer stint was a great experience.
Among the 90 entries this year were the ever popular crowd favorite four-legged friends marching as the “Golden Retrievers,” “Pomeranians on Parade,” “Labradors” and, for the first time this year, a group of French bulldogs.
Also new this year, making a grand entrance on horseback, were the “Balboalleros,” local cowboys who hang their hats in Newport Beach. All are members of Las Caballeros and are rodeo champions, refined ropers and expert cattlemen.
Three Icelandic horses, bred and trained in Newport Beach, carried riders along the parade route.
The biggest hit, though, especially with kids, were the Mini Madness miniature therapy horses, who mingled with the crowd and performed stunts.
The slice of Americana and hometown feel that make the parade special drew people of all ages, including Lynn Newton, who is 97 years old and lives on North Bayfront.
Newton, an Island resident since 1959, said she attends the parade every year. “I wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “Everybody brings together happiness.”
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