The whirl and bustle of the past several weeks is now building to a crescendo with the Parade day dawning bright and shiny, a picture perfect day if I ever saw one. There was quite a group who had stayed at the Best Western, and all were beginning to gather early to go next door to Denny’s for a “substantial” breakfast to carry us through the day. Some of my family was there, like my niece, Sisty and a friend over from Phoenix, then there was Carole, another niece, with husband Phil, from Simi Valley. Others there, but have slipped through the cracks of the old brain, and I don’t have time to sit around and wait for the light to go on. And now, a flash just came out of nowhere, and someone else staying there was Bertha, my friend, the famous softball pitcher, with daughter Janice and granddaughter Jennifer. I know there were others, but I’ll let it go.
The Motel is on the Ortega Hwy (S74) across the Freeway 5 from the Mission Basilica. (Incidentally, I must Interject right here and now that it is a huge honor for a Catholic Church to be designated as a “Basilica.” That puts it in the class of St. Peter’s in Rome.)
The area north east is where the staging areas are for the parade entries. I was picked up on a golf cart and scooted over the Freeway with a turn to the right on Camino Real to a nice shady parking lot across from Mission. This parking lot was for the VIP’s, i.e. the Grand Marshal, with my Niece-in-law Anita Forster and daughter Roberta Forster. Then other luminaries such as the President Rita, the City’s Matriarch, Mayor, were joined by the antique Fire Engine drawn by 2 mammoth white horses. I don’t know where all the staging areas were — all I know is that The Marching Bands had one, the Horse Back Riders had one, participants in wagons in another, walkers on their own hoofs had one. Remember, NO motorized entries. I would love to have had that little Model A pictured in Part II for my float instead of an old wagon.
While waiting for the Parade to begin, all the people in our assembly area visited around to chew the fat, get acquainted telling raunchy old jokes, stuff like that. I bumped into a few people I hadn’t seen in years. It was a good way for everyone to loosen up for the long ride ahead.
In the meantime, the people who “love a Parade” were gathering along the parade route, and we would soon see how many had come to witness this unique Parade.
It was time to get into the wagons, our place number was #8 in the parade, so we were directed into line following the 7 groups who started (flag carriers, marching band, baton twirlers, etc.) then #9 could be from some other area following us. I don’t know how many entry numbers there were. I do know there were around 600 horses, about 1,000 people involved in this display that takes a couple of hours to get through from start to finish. The farthest away entry came from Capistrano, ITALY, San Juan’s sister city. (Personally, I
would rather have Cathedral City’s sister city, which is City of Tequila, State of Jalisco, MEXICO.)
We were off and running plodding along, the crowds who were gathered along the parade route were cheering. It was exciting, and we were waving our arms off. I was amazed at the enthusiasm of the audience. What a trip! It took us forever to reach the finish line, and when we did, Anita, Roberta, and I were whisked into a golf cart through alleys and back streets to deliver us to a VIP seating area across from El Adobe where we could watch the rest of the parade which went on for another hour.
When the Parade was finally over, the people took a long time to get out of the area. Our little gang ended up down the block at the Swallows Inn, where you had to wait for someone to leave for one from outside to get in. So I went around to the back, and the cook let me sneak in — he no doubt figured they needed another bartender.
I’m getting terribly tired about now. The Parade is gone till next year and I will call it a day.
> I have a CD of the entire parade. Cox TV gave it to me. If you would like to borrow it, let me know.
> I also have a 15-min video, a real keeper. My nephew, Marshall, produced, did the photography, dubbed in the music, the whole enchilada. If you want to borrow and copy this, let me know.
I don’t think I will be doing any more IV-part stories. It’s too close to buying green bananas.
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS