SCV residents come out in numbers for parade
  • Fourth of July Parade winners [click here]
  • Fourth of July Parade slide show [click here]

    ABOVE: Saturday's parade was the 62nd that Jean C. Knecht has seen roll through the streets of Newhall. RIGHT: Doroteto Juares of the Rodriguez and Solis Charro Group, winner of the Grand Equestrian trophy, wows the crowd of approx. 25,000 with his trick roping skills. [Top Photo by STEVE McCRANK / The Signal; Bottom Photo by LEON WORDEN / The Signal]

    Signal Staff Writer
    Sunday, July 5, 1998

    The country fair-themed Fourth of July parade attracted legions of enthusiastic Santa Clarita Valley residents to downtown Newhall on Saturday morning to celebrate the country's birthday.

    Antique automobiles, Mexican "charros" on prancing horses and jazz musicians were among approximately 2,000 participants in the annual parade, which drew nearly 100 entries.

    Clyde Smyth, former mayor of Santa Clarita and previous superintendent of the Hart School District, was this year's parade grand marshall.

    Holding miniature American flags, clapping, cheering and waving at passers-by, about 25,000 people of all ages lined the streets along the parade route through downtown Newhall.

    Valerie Lesher, who celebrated her 82nd birthday Friday, said she looks forward to the Fourth of July parade every year.

    "Oh, this is a big event in our town," said Lesher, a local resident for 35 years. "I enjoy it very much. It's very fun."

    Judges along the parade route evaluated the entries and presented awards in several categories at the conclusion of the parade.

    The winner of the Grand Equestrian category was the Rodriguez and Solis Charro Group. The Sweepstakes prize went to Meadowview Neighborhood's float entry.

    Other award-winning parade entries included the SCV YMCA Indian Y-Guides and Princesses for Best Decorated, who chanted and sang their way through the parade wearing "war paint" and feathered Indian headdresses, and the United States Postal Service for Best of Theme.

    As local members of the Vietnam Veterans of America marched their way through the parade, spectators applauded the war veterans and honored them with a standing ovation.

    Another parade highlight were the young gymnasts of Fun and Fit Gymnastics who cart-wheeled their way down Walnut Street and Lyons Avenue.

    Some local politicians who participated in Saturday's independence day parade included Jo Anne Darcy, current mayor pro-tem for the city of Santa Clarita, Assemblyman George Runner and Senator Pete Knight.

    Nine-year-old Samantha Shrum and her neighbor, 8-year-old Tori Simmons, watched the parade together. Shrum and Simmons, both students at Newhall Elementary School, shared their favorite parade entries.

    "I liked the horses they were riding," Simmons said.

    Shrum said her favorite part was the "girls who were all dressed up, in the fancy cars," referring to the beauty pageant winners who participated in the parade.

    Customers dining at window seats in Gallagher's Old Town Restaurant in Newhall, located on Walnut Street along the parade route, had a premier, air-conditioned view of parade festivities.

    "If you don't feel like a part of America when you're here, then something's wrong," remarked restaurant owner Joe Gallagher.

    "This is hometown U.S.A. right here," continued Gallagher, an eight-year resident of the SCV. "This is why we live in Santa Clarita."

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