Laguna Beach will wrap itself in red, white and blue Saturday for the 45th annual Patriots Day Parade, a cavalcade of more than 100 entries, including military units, marching bands, classic cars, dance units, equestrians, floats, local organizations, businesses and schools, who will vie for prizes or just enjoy the accolades of their friends and neighbors.
The march will begin at 11 a.m. from Park Avenue and Short Street, near Laguna Beach High School, then turn right on Glenneyre Street and right on Forest Avenue, ending at City Hall.
It is said that half the town is in the parade and the other half watches, and the parade's festive spirit is contagious.
The parade theme is "Coming Home," a welcome to the troops returning from war in the Middle East. The parade began in 1967 as the dream of Lagunan Emily Ross, a member of the local Daughters of the American Revolution, Patience Wright Chapter.
Grand marshals for the 2011 parade are Al Roberts and Ken Jillson, creators of the Big Splash and other events to raise funds for the AIDS Services Foundation.
Honored Patriot is Frank Keneley, who flew Air Force combat missions over Nazi Germany and was shot down, serving time in a prisoner-of-war camp, according to the Patriots Day Committee.
Honored Citizen is longtime arts activist Pat Kollenda.
Athlete of the Year is James Pribram, professional surfer and environmental activist, as well as a columnist for the Coastline Pilot.
Laguna College of Art and Design is being honored as Artist of the Year.
Junior Citizens of the Year are Caroline Rechter and Ben Hanson.
Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road will remain open all day, but traffic is expected to be heavily congested due to the surrounding road closures, and the Police Department is advising motorists to use alternate routes.
The following streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
•Park Avenue between Wendt Terrace and South Coast Highway;
•Glenneyre Street, between Legion Street and Forest Avenue;
•Forest Avenue will be closed between South Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road;
•Third Street will be closed between Park and Forest avenues;
•Second Street will be closed for its entire length between Mermaid Street and Forest Avenue;
•Mermaid Street will be closed for its entire length between Second and Third streets.
For more information about traffic, call the watch commander at (949) 497-0359.
The parade will be broadcast after-the-fact on Cox Channel 3 from 8 to 10 p.m. March 18 and 4 to 6 p.m. March 20; and on Cox 3 On Demand (Channel 1636) from March 21 to April 21.
For more information, visit http://www.lagunabeachparade.org.