Guardsmen to serve as parade's grand marshal

Gretchen Hoffman

Organizers are putting last-minute touches on the revamped 55th

annual Days of the Verdugos fiesta and parade, which will be led by

National Guardsmen from the Glendale Armory.

The 3rd Battalion of the 160th Infantry of the California

National Guard, which defended two chemical plants and an ammunition

depot in Utah for almost a year, will serve as grand marshal of the

parade.

"We thought it would be a great idea to have them because they

just came back from their tour of duty," said Luis Aldana, president

of the Glendale Junior Chamber of Commerce. "We like to honor special

people."

The parade, originally started to celebrate the city's Latino

heritage, has grown to include all of the city's cultures. The

festival benefits the Jaycees.

The parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, will consist of two

hours of music, horses and ethnic and cultural demonstrations,

including mariachi performers and marching bands from area schools,

including Burbank and Glendale high schools.

It's a mainstay of the festival, which takes place Thursday

through Sunday at Verdugo Park, 1601 Canada Blvd., and features

carnival rides, international food booths and music.

Organizers made some changes to the parade after last year's event

was threatened by a lack of interest and participation. The Days of

Verdugo Assn. -- which for years helped organize the parade along

with the Jaycees -- pulled out to focus on other projects.

This year's parade, complete with floats and marching bands, will

march down Brand Boulevard during the day instead of at night, a

return to parade tradition. The route has also been reversed and will

move from north to south along Brand Boulevard.

"It'll be warmer for everybody, and we wanted to clear the streets

a lot faster so that business can get back to normal," Aldana said.

"We're trying to be as business-friendly as possible."

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