Frank R. Hall and Associates
   382 E. Montecito Ave
   Sierra Madre, Ca 91024

Friends ask me why Patty and I choose to live in Sierra Madre a full 75 minute commute from my office in Orange. The reason is we love it here and here's why:

Sierra Madre has only about 11,000 residents and because it's land-locked with Pasadena on the west, Arcadia on the south and east and Mt. Wilson rising abruptly on the North, it is not likely to get any bigger. It's an old town, once a mountain resort at that early day Los Angelinos reached by taking the old electric "Red Car" train. The population is diverse, but, it has no minority population over 10% of the total, making it the only incorporated city in Los Angeles County without a "Dominant Minority" (Isn't that an Oxy-moron?). It's also the only city in the County with no parking meters or stop lights making it quite popular with the Movie Industry as a site for filming a typical small town.

The 4th of July is a red letter day in Sierra Madre and citizens celebrate the event beginning days in advance. A Classic Car Show opens in Memorial Park on the First of July followed by an exhibit of ancient mechanical musical instruments.

On the evening of the 3rd the Volunteer Fire Department and the Sierra Madre Brewing Company (producers of a Micro-Brew of great quality) open a "Beer Garden" in the center of the park, carefully erecting cyclone fences to keep the kids out. Outside the beer garden the Rotary Club (that's us) installs its "Dunk Tank" to give kids and adults a chance to dunk City Councilmen, the Chief of Police and other local dignitaries. The line is always longest to dunk the local Parking Enforcement Officer and the Episcopal Priest. Dunking Little League Coaches is also popular at two balls for a buck. Various food booths are available sponsored by local groups and a free concert is offered (This year it was a Beatles knock-off group).

The big event of the celebration is the Fourth of July Parade beginning at 10 AM and traversing the length of Sierra Madre Blvd. Every resident of Sierra Madre is either in the parade or watching it.

Southern California has a lot of parades including of course the Rose Parade and the Doo Dah Parade, a parody of the Rose which has become famous for such entries as "Dykes on Bikes" and "The Brief Case Drill Team". The Sierra Madre Fourth of July Parade is very patriotic, but, it's fun, too. Citizens never mock the USA or the Founding Fathers, but, they don't mind "sticking it to" the local politicos in good fun.

Patty and I live toward the end of the Parade route only a block off Sierra Madre Blvd. We, along with all the neighbors, congregate in the yard of one neighbor whose property is elevated providing an excellent view over the heads of the assembled multitude lining the sidewalk. Beer and Cokes are available along with a lot of wisecracks and gossip while we wait for the lead entries to reach us. They arrive at 10:45 after about 2 miles on the road. This year there were 85 entries.

Leading the parade was one of the town's three Police Cruisers followed by the Color Guard from the local U. S. Marine Reserve Unit. Next came the Sierra Madre Veterans of Foreign Wars. Four old geezers, probably the local chapter's only ambulatory members, proudly marching in their uniforms to a standing ovation from their friends and neighbors. By the time they got to us they were sweaty and limping from their 2 mile hike. Patty and I figured one to be a Korean Vet, the rest were definitely vintage WWII. There were no dry eyes as we cheered them.

Next came the Sierra Madre City College Marching Band. Now, there is no City College in Sierra Madre. In fact, there's no public High School or even a Junior High. Mysteriously each year the musicians materialize ranging in age from perhaps 8 to about 50 and they play a pretty good rendition of the Mickey Mouse Club song. In mid stanza the leader will run over to the side of the road followed by the rest of the band to play Happy Birthday for some 6 year old watching the parade. At the back of the band come the drummers. Eight elegant black dudes with shaved heads, earrings and shades, recruited from nearby Pasadena High School's band. We think they are the best part of the Parade. Behind the Band comes the Sierra Madre City College Float (the only Float in the parade). This year's theme is "Zero Tolerance" in honor of Rudy Guiallini's crack down on New York City crime and a spoof aimed at the local Police Department's recent enforcement of the 25 MPH speed limit. No one really knows who these Sierra Madre City College folks are, but, we suspect they are the denizens of Sierra Madre's one and only Bar, the Buccaneer Lounge.

The next 80 or so entries contained a lot of kids - A Brownie Troop and three Cub Scout Packs (offering their traditional two fingered salute) marching with Den Mothers and Dads; 3 different Nursery Schools including "Mama Pete's" featuring moms and dads pushing strollers and pulling red wagons; the entire Girls Softball Association; the roller hockey league in uniform and on skates; the "California Twirling Corps" composed of about 50 little girls carrying pom-poms, but no batons (one wonders what they twirl); a group of little gymnasts cart wheeling down the street followed by the local Ballet Dance School prancing on the back of a truck plus the Sierra Madre Kids Marching Band.

There were the obligatory politicians. Our Congressman, our State Legislators, our County Supervisor, all five members of our City Council each riding in the back of a convertible and the entire Arcadia City Council perched precariously on a Hook and Ladder from the Arcadia Fire Department.

Then there were the Car Clubs: Horseless Carriages, T-birds, Deuce Coups, Woodies, Packards, Studebakers, Hudsons and seven forlorn DeLoreans doors lifted like seven silver Batmobiles. This year for the first time there were no Edsels, I guess they finally ran out of spare parts. There were also no horses. Southern California parades are always chock full of equestrian groups. Not in Sierra Madre, where citizen volunteers do most of the work and know full well who would end up cleaning up the mess from
the streets. Among the Adult groups were the all volunteer Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team marching in full back pack. They are the pride of the community risking life and limb to rescue novice hikers from our mountain back yard. They received the only other standing ovation of the day.

There were two Church Choirs singing away from the backs of flat bed trucks; The Sierra Madre Environmental Education Committee carrying signs like "Compost Happens" and "Think before you spray"; The cast of the latest play at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in costume; The "Stogie Club" a bunch of middle-aged fat guys puffing on cigars; The Board of the Chamber of Commerce pushing their latest "Find the Treasure of Sierra Madre" promotion; a group calling themselves "The Residents for the Preservation
of Sierra Madre" who I think are advocating against in migration and the Ancient Order of Hibernians playing their bagpipes made remarkable because one of the dozen or so kilted Scots was obviously an Asian.

The Rose Float Association is a group of volunteers that has been designing and building a float to represent Sierra Madre in the Rose Parade for 70 Years. Our float is funded by the contributions of the community it represents; most are now sponsored by big companies. In the Fourth of July Parade the Rose Float Association enters the bare chassis of next year's float while volunteers run along side selling roses as a fund raiser for this year's entry in the “Big Parade”.

Entry number 40, smack in the middle of the parade (by design or coincidence), is Sierra Madre's very own Belly Dancer. Wearing her Stars and Stripes Bra with a red, white and blue skirt she attempts to do a basically stand-in-place dance while moving forward at about 5 miles per hour. Trying to high-step and undulate at the same time, she lurches
forward like a drunken half naked drum major. She's at every public event and while she's getting a little long in the tooth for her chosen profession she's a good sport and she smiles broadly while we laugh.

As the last few entries pass by we again hear drums in the distance. It's the "Varmint Control Council's Marching Band". They look familiar because they are the same people who were in the Sierra Madre City College Band, wearing different shirts. When they reached the finish line earlier in the day they raced back to the staging area, changed clothes and started all over again. There is no mistaking those magnificent drummers -
marching and pounding, marching and pounding.

Bringing up the rear are the 3 Fire Engines and Paramedic Van which constitute the equipment of the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department. Manned by Accountants, House Painters and School Teachers, they are the pride of the community whose contributions support them. They spray water from their hoses high in the air so all the kids on the sidelines can rush into the street for an impromptu drenching.

After the parade, participants and spectators go back to Memorial Park for more food and fun. Dunking of dignitaries continues, the Beer Garden flourishes and a Dixie Land Jazz Festival finishes off the day. If you think this is something, wait until I tell you what happens around here at Halloween.



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