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Our Laguna: It was a great day for a parade

Blue skies were shining on the Patriots Day Parade on Saturday, and the mood was sunny as well.

“Welcome Home” was the theme of the 45th annual parade. It was perhaps most meaningful to the veterans returning home from the Middle East.

“To all of them we gratefully said by our actions and words: ‘Welcome Home,’” parade committee President Michael Lyons said.

Parade Grand Marshals Al Roberts and Ken Jillson certainly found their spiritual home when they landed in Laguna Beach in the 1960s and joined forces. It was the perfect place for their combined skills and philosophy.


They were honored by the parade committee for the creation and funding of the AIDS Services Foundation starting in the 1980s when the pandemic virus was decimating the city’s gay population.

“It is such an honor to be named marshals,” Jillson said. “There are so many people in this town that deserve it.”

Actually, the committee wanted to honor them last year.

“But we were going to Chile,” Roberts said. “Then the earthquake happened and the trip was canceled.”


Also honored this year: Patriot of the Year Frank Keneley; Citizen of the Year Pat Kollenda; Junior Citizens of the Year Caroline Rechter and Ben Hanson; Athlete of the Year and Coastline Pilot columnist James Pribram; and Artists of the Year Laguna College of Art & Design, represented by college President Dennis Power.

Their biographies were printed in the parade program, along with a history of the parade, edited by committee Treasurer Sandi Werthe and winning essay on the “Welcome Home” by Thurston Middle School sixth-grader Kaden Matheson. Laguna Beach High School student Madeleine Brian designed the program cover.

Following their trip down the parade route, the honorees were seated in a reviewing stand in front of City Hall.

“The view of the parade is definitely different — it’s so much fun I wanted to do it again,” Kollenda said in the stand, tented for the first time and erected, under the capable direction of Retired Police Capt. Eugene D’Isabella and committee Vice President Charles Quilter II, who also writes most of the text in the parade program.

Parade participants began gathering at the Laguna Beach Unified School District parking lot or the band staging area at the high school field a good three hours before the scheduled start down Park Avenue. They were greeted by the check-in team of Barbara and Jim Pemberton. Vicki McIntosh and her daughter, Annamarie, were selling Girl Scout cookies right up to the start of the parade. Annamarie, 8 and her friend, Ethan Gee, 11, both planned to audition for No Square Theatre’s 2011 LagunaTots. Both were in last year’s production.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation was among the first timers at the parade.

Foundation Executive Director Lisa Wolter and Director of Volunteer Services Cindy Brenneman were accompanied by 15 survivors of breast cancer.

Pacific Philharmonic Maestro Carl St. Claire also made his first appearance at the parade and he wasn’t waving a baton


He and his wife, Susan, were in the entry by the United Studio of Self Defense, at which their son, Cade, and daughter, Siena, study.

St. Claire has been asked in the past to be the grand marshal, but the family was always scheduled to be out of the country on parade day, his wife said.

Parade regulars included the Laguna Beach Garden Club, whose flowery float was decorated by Carolyn Bent, a veteran decorator of the Rose Parade floats.

The Rose Bowl is where she met her husband, Dr. Tom Bent, whose father owned a decorating company. Tom Bent is director of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic and was honored last year with Dr. Korey Jorgeson as the Citizens of the Year.

Bree Burgess Rosen organized the No Square Theatre entry, but for the first time did not dance along the parade route in stilettos — she wore flats.

The entry included what looked like half of the cast of “Lagunatics,” costumed in yellow slickers, a precision parasol team, Burgess Rosen’s son, Noah, driving the fire truck Patrick Quilter created for the show and a Citroen Deux Chavaux — which translates to two horse under the hood.

The Sister Cities Assn. of Laguna Beach entry also included the French vehicle in honor of its French sibling, Menton, along with Laguna Beach High School French teacher Odile Dewar and students, including Samantha Thomas, Wyatt Fair, Savanah Miller and association members Jennifer and Fred Karam.

Animal Crackers’ entry included 35 dogs, all available for adoption and accompanied by fosterers and volunteers of the nonprofit rescue foundation the store owner Gina Kantzbedian founded and funds.


The HIP District between Thalia Street and Bluebird Canyon Drive was represented by Casa del Camino owner Chris Keller, Old Pottery Place developer Joe Hanauer, Strands and Stitches owners Lisa Triebwasser, Cindy Hartman and Doña Harman and Ruben Flores of Laguna Nursery, among others.

In all, the parade had 104 entries this year.

Cars were judged by Mike Morrison before the parade started.

Walt and Pamela Otto won the Antique Division, driving a pristine 1929 Model A Roadster, the first year Ford Motor Co. allowed any color but black on its vehicles. The Ottos’ roadster is painted the original balsam green, with a gold pinstripe and yellow wheels.

The car was built in San Francisco and has never been out of California.

School board members were honored with an award for the car lent to them by Crevier Classic Cars.

Also awarded:

Second place in Antique Auto went to the Orange County Chapter of the Sons of American Revolution.

Dizz’s Restaurant took second place in the Classic Auto class for their ride in Eric Mueller’s car. Mission Hospital placed third.

Rotary Club won the contemporary class. Fritz, an 11-year-old West Highland white terrier, enjoyed the ride in the big red Cadillac.

The Laguna Beach High School Alumni Assn. came in third in a vehicle owned by Steve Fazio.

“We have members all over the world,” alumnus Howard Hills said. “The annual all-class picnic now has about 400 people and we raise $5,000 to $10,000 for Laguna Beach High School graduates who are descendants of grads.”

The Laguna Beach Community Clinic rode into third place in Jim Roy’s car.

But nothing — two- or four-legged walkers or vehicles — moves down Park Avenue from the staging areas until starter Howard Levin says, “Go.”

Among his assistants: Kathy and Ed Hanke II, Nina Rietsch, and Anne Wood. Jim Rue announced the entries as they passed in front of the Laguna Beach Library. John Kountz’ was the voice heard at the parade passed City Hall and the judges.


Trophy Winners

Grand Marshal’s Trophy: Laguna Beach Girl Scouts

President’s Trophy: Y Adventure Guides

Band Association. Sweepstakes: Oaks Middle School, Ontario

Elementary School Band: Laguna Beach Unified School District Elementary Band

Color Guard (over age 21 and older): First place — American Legion Post 222/Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5868 Combined Color Guard

Floats — Community/service:

First — Laguna Beach Garden Club

Second — Transitions Laguna

Third — National Children’s Study

Floats — Youth:

First — Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Second — Boy Scout Troop 35/Cub Scout Pack 35

Third — Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Floats — Commercial:

First — Pageant of the Masters

Second — Laguna Beach County Water District

Third — H.I.P. District

Novelty — Community/service:

First — Y Adventure Guides

Second — Laguna Beach Girl Scouts

Third — AIDS Services Foundation

Novelty — Commercial:

First — Mel Jackson Fitness Thru Dance

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond at P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail