No one can accuse Huntington Beach of not blowing its own horn when an
event occurs, and this week we’ll look back at just how the city went
about getting the word out on the opening of the city’s fishing barge.
For more than 15 years, the townsfolk talked of having a boat landing
at the Huntington Beach Pier and a barge anchored offshore. In 1926,
Huntington Beach got its wish of a pier boat landing and a barge anchored
3 1/2 miles offshore.
But since this was before television and the Internet, they needed a
way to publicize that the barge was open for business.
The problem was left up to resident E.B. Stevens, who lived at 714
Pacific Coast Highway. Stevens came up with the idea of a big “fish
parade.” Not just a little parade down Main Street, but a caravan of
decorated cars that would start in Huntington Beach and travel through
several inland towns and cities.
Stevens enlisted many of our business owners to help with the idea of
a fish parade. Some of these cars would be decorated with fishing poles
and nets, others would carry some of our local beauties.
And so one Friday morning, June 20, 1926, 30 cars left the Huntington
Beach Chamber of Commerce office and headed east toward Santa Ana.
The parade was led by Huntington Beach motorcycle officer Elmer
Parker. In the first decorated car rode our city council members -- at
that time they were known as city trustees.
In that car sat O.R. Harris, C.G. Boster, J.W. Mitchell, W.R. Wharton
and City Clerk Charles Furr. Behind our top officials was a float that
contained Musgrave’s Jazz Band. They supplied the music for our little
caravan. They even had a piano on board that float. As our cars passed
through the city of Orange and then the tiny hamlet of Olive, the bathing
beauties of Huntington Beach, in their beach attire, attracted many a
look from passersby.
Inside that car also rode two males -- John Barlow -- the driver --
and lifeguard Fred Ott. On went our line of cars through Anaheim,
Fullerton, Brea and La Habra, each with a banner on the side of the car
proclaiming the opening of the barge.
Following behind the beauties rode Stevens. On and on went the
paraders, through Santa Fe Springs, Artesia and Norwalk. In the car
behind Stevens’ vehicle rode Scoutmaster L.A. Olmstead and a large number
of local boy scouts waving to bystanders. Our parade turned around and
continued back east into Buena Park, all the while cars were blowing
their horns and jazz bands played musical numbers.
Behind the scouts, the owners of the barge, Charles Warner and Gene
Lindly rode. Our little band of fish paraders now left Buena Park and
headed south toward Garden Grove and home to Huntington Beach. The
caravan, with its tired paraders, arrived back home in the afternoon,
after covering more than 85 miles and entertaining people in more than a
dozen towns and cities. I just can’t picture our present City Council
riding in a caravan of open touring cars and advertising the opening of a
new Wal-Mart or surf shop.
But word did get out about the new barge and that weekend in 1926,
more than 255 people enjoyed the fishing off that barge.
Compton resident Tom Cox caught a deep-sea bass weighing more than 300
pounds and measuring 5 feet, 10 inches in length. No! that’s not a fish
story. But even that prize fish pales in comparison to that wonderful
fish parade that Huntington Beach organized so many years ago.
* JERRY PERSON is a local historian and longtime Huntington Beach
resident. If you have ideas for future columns, write him at P.O. Box
7182, Huntington Beach, CA 92615.