Don’t rain on their parade: Junior Citizens of the Year shine in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach High seniors Tyler Palino and Elaina Seybold are the Junior Citizens of the Year.
Laguna Beach High seniors Tyler Palino and Elaina Seybold are the Junior Citizens of the Year, an honor handed out for the Patriots Day Parade since 1977. Both students have gravitated toward math and science in their academic pursuits. Rain forced the cancellation of this year’s parade.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

When he was younger, Tyler Palino spent a handful of years preparing for and marching in the Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade.

Palino played trumpet through middle school, and it was his chance to play in the processional that his grandmother loved and that annually takes over the downtown streets on the first Saturday of March.

This year would have been different. While Palino traded in his instrument for other pursuits beginning in high school, he would have been back in the parade as an honoree.


“I think Laguna Beach does an amazing job of supporting and promoting community service and a feeling of togetherness,” Palino said of the local celebration. “There’s always someone willing to support you or help you achieve your dreams.”

The Patriots Day Parade was canceled Thursday, just ahead of the event, after forecasters said there would be rain on Saturday. The parade will not be rescheduled.

The Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade committee has announced the honorees for next year’s event. Rick Shoemaker, a 54-year resident, will serve as grand marshal.

Nov. 3, 2023

Junior Citizens of the Year have been featured in the event since 1977, and the recognition went to Laguna Beach High seniors Elaina Seybold and Palino this year.

Parade entry chairwoman Sandi Werthe said the honor was first bestowed upon the Laguna Beach girls’ volleyball team after they won the CIF Southern Section Division 4-A championship under then coach George Carey for the program’s first title in 1976.

Palino took up coding in his youth, and his interest in cybersecurity intensified when his grandfather was targeted in an online scam.

“He lost a great deal of money, and it was really difficult to recover all his accounts,” Palino said. “There was somebody posing as Yahoo support, and they got his bank details and log-ins from that. I started working with cybersecurity. I’ve taken a cybersecurity class through [College Career Advantage] here. I have a club on campus called Connect Tech Laguna, where we’re working to educate seniors on scams to help, because it’s a really big issue.”

Palino would like to create user interfaces that make it easier for aging populations to navigate life that is increasingly moving online.

“Growing up, we saw all the computer icons, so we know what the back button means, what the red circle means on Apple, but for older adults, it’s really hard to understand these symbols and icons because they didn’t grow up with that type of user interface,” Palino said. “I want to make it very clear [and] easier to utilize for older adults and people with motor and visual impairments.”

Seybold comes from a multigenerational military family, which made the Laguna Beach Patriots Day celebration particularly special to her.

Military service and the associated family sacrifice was present in her life from her first breaths. Seybold became one of the first babies to have their birth filmed live on a webcam, which made it possible for her father — deployed in Kuwait at the time — to witness her coming into the world.

“It was in the news because they were able to talk to each other,” Seybold said of the moment her parents shared. “... There’s so much sacrifice involved with that, people who have dedicated themselves to that idea of making a better place for their community.”

Seybold now dreams of following an entrepreneurial path in biomedical engineering. Her goals have been shaped by her own struggles with autoimmune disorders, which she described as “crippling” liver and gut problems.

“It’s weird because [with] the invisible disease, you can consider the pros,” Seybold said. “There are obviously people who have a lot more visible impairments. That’s really difficult to not fit in, but also, when you’re struggling with something but it’s not visible, and you just have to act like you’re fine when you’re not. ...

“There’s sort of a feeling of isolation that stems from that, which is why I was so empowered to go do the community service and go talk to the kids and show them remission is possible. You can get through high school. You can play a sport.”

Seybold has been a key player for the Laguna Beach girls’ basketball team. She averaged six points and 5.9 rebounds as a junior for the Breakers, when the team advanced to the CIF Division 4A semifinals and the CIF State Southern California Regional Division V quarterfinals.

The Junior Citizens of the Year are selected by Laguna Beach High staff. The award is given based on students’ achievements in athletics, community service, leadership and scholarship. Plaques commemorating the honor are distributed, and the honorees ride in the parade. The recognition is also recorded in the parade program.

After a snowboarding accident in 2018 led to a life-changing brain injury, Laguna Beach resident Brayden Belden thought he would never surf again. He was a finalist this week in the Brooks Street Surfing Classic.

Sept. 16, 2023

Laguna Beach High junior Brayden Belden was also named the Athlete of the Year after overcoming a brain injury to find surfing success in the local contest at Brooks Street.

Students often volunteer in the parade for community service hours.

Laguna Beach High Principal Jason Allemann said conversations are had among the administration, counselors and teachers when considering who the nominees should be.

“The nice thing about the school is it’s got such a strong community feel among the student body that we’re really always in touch,” Allemann said. “I think it’s really, truly due to the class size. Being smaller, we’re able to be more intimately involved in students’ high school experience, and then we have organic conversations around that and what is the best representative of that for a community event like the Patriots Day Parade.”