Our Laguna: Patriots Day Parade brings out the town

March 3 was a day to remember.

"Never Forget" was the theme of the Patriots Day Parade. It was a reminder to those who participated in it and those who watched it to respect what our flag represents, those who defend it and why they defend it.

The annual parade featured rescued puppies, restored classic cars, residents and representatives of city government, numerous charitable organizations and businesses, and the 2012 honorees: Grand Marshals Dorene and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Lee Butler, Patriot Louise Buckley, Citizens Betsy and Dr. Gary Jenkins, Junior Citizens Caroline Cannan and Bryce Blanton, artist Jorg Dubin, Athlete Natasha Strickland, essay contest winner Niva Razin and program cover artist Anton Faicchio.

Beach Harbor Limo provided the limousines for VIPs.

Nancy and Gary Beverage and Michael Tauber had the task of picking the winning entries, except for special awards.

The Marshal's Trophy was presented to Waste Management, a longtime goal of the company's "Energizer Bunny" Michelle Clark.

Twisted Stitchers' "yarn-bombed" car, decorated with pieces of needlework — a 15-hour project — and driven by Michelle Boyd, won the President's Theme Award. The 46 individual pieces included Boyd's grandmother's potholders covering the backside of car's side-view mirrors.

The Soroptimists won first place in the classic car competition with a 1954 Packard Caribbean, owned by Philo Smith, driven by Maggie Hempen and ridden in by the group's honorees, Faye Chapman and Kathleen Burnham.

Ruby's Diner came in second and the Rotary Club in third.


Other car awards

Auto — Antique:

1st: Rick Strollo

2nd: Richard Leger

3rd: Orange County Chapter, Sons of American Revolution

Auto — Contemporary:

1st: Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn., owned by Susan and Rockney McGill

2nd: Festival of Goddesses

3rd: Mission Hospital of Laguna Beach


Float awards


1st: Y Adventure Guides

2nd: Combined Honors Choruses of Top of the World/El Morro elementary schools

3rd: Boys & Girls Club


1st: Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn.

2nd: Pacific Marine Mammal Center

3rd: Laguna Beach Little League


1st: Hobie Sports

2nd: Sawdust Art Festival

3rd: Pageant of the Masters


Novelty Awards


1st: Laguna Beach Library

2nd: Kyne Dance Academy

3rd: Garden Club


1st: Cal Elite, Rancho Santa Margarita

2nd: HIP District

3rd: United Studios of Self Defense

In other awards, Oaks Middle School of Ontario won the Band Assn. Sweepstakes. Elementary school band honors went to the Laguna Beach Unified School District.

The American Legion Post 222/Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5868 combined color guard was awarded a first prize.

In all, 101 entries participated in the 46th annual parade.

The first parade was held Feb. 22, 1967, organized by Laguna's Patience Wright Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), with the assistance of the Laguna Beach Exchange Club. Laguna's chapter was founded in 1939 and is the second oldest in Orange County.

The DAR entry this year included Laguna Beach High School student Marianna Acevedo, the group's selection as the 2012 "Good Citizen," which is the highest honor presented to high school students.

The DAR entry also included Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeremy Thomas, honored for his service and sacrifice for the country while serving in Afghanistan.

Laguna Beach police motorcycle officers led off the parade, followed by Girl Scouts toting the parade banner, the combined color guard of American Legion Post 222 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5868 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band from Miramar.

Entries also included First Team Real Estate's cottage, built by Rick Lorenz to fit over his truck, and Assistance League members, including Suzi Bithell, whose husband, Harry, drove her classic car.

Former San Francisco 49er defensive end Cedrick Hardman, one-time sack leader of the team, drove his 1973 Eldorado in the parade. He bought it new his third year as a pro.

Carolyn Bent draped flowers over the award-winning pedi-cab entered by the Garden Club, driven by Sandy Smith.

Decorators and parade volunteers arrived early to prepare the staging area at Laguna Beach High School and the parade route, which later would be lined with the half of Laguna's residents who weren't in the parade.

The parade could never happen without the volunteers and organized by the parade committee: President Ed Hanke; Charles Quilter II, vice president; Sandi Werthe, treasurer, Kathy Hanke, secretary; Michael Lyons, 2011 president; "Diz" D'Isabella, program ad salesman, reviewing stand organizer and driver of the iconic Seagraves; Jay Andrus, dispersal area; John Kountz and Jim Rue, parade announcers; Karen Ford, school liaison; Sande St. John, hospitality chair, assisted by Jean Law and Elizabeth Tomlin; Don Black, VIP car wrangler; Doug Miller, photographer; and Howard Levin, parade starter.

Black and Marv Johnson worked with Boy Scout Troop 35 to set up no-parking signs. "Marshalers" included Deborah and Dylan Bryant, Ellie Levin, Pam and Perry Valantine and Anne Wood.

Patrick Quilter of QSC Audio and Jerry Ford set up the Larson Lighting and Audio public address system. Cox Communications videotaped and airs the parade.

More than 100 Explorers from Laguna and out-of-town posts in Garden Grove, Cypress, Buena Park, La Habra, Tustin, Bell, Costa Mesa, Orange, Westminster and Fountain Valley assisted local police in keeping safe the crowds lining the parade route. They were overseen by Civilian Supervisor Jim Beres and Investigative Services Supervisor Sgt. Robert Rahaeuser.

Pauline Walpin, Connie Burlin and Mai Huynah served up pizza, sandwiches, chicken and desserts, under the direction of St. John, who was still recovering from surgery and therapy on a broken leg.

Domino's Pizza, Gina's, the Cottage, Ruby's and Albertsons were among the donors of food. The White House donated coffee. Kia prepared breakfast for the kids.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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