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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
May 23
1941 - SCV's first real movie house, the American Theater, dedicated in Newhall [story]
American Theater

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Friday, Jul 3, 2015

darrylmanzer0215I know the celebration of the birth of our nation is here. A couple of nearby cities are being extra stupid by allowing the sale of fireworks in the middle of one of the worst droughts we’ve experienced in many years. Maybe Forest Gump was right. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I’ve been getting the monthly maintenance done to the outside of Betty Boop, my Jeep. Super clean inside and out so that come very early Saturday morning, I can be ready to provide transport for one of our local politicians. Last year I played a CD of the Beach Boys the whole parade. This time I’m thinking just John Phillip Sousa.

From the seventh grade at Placerita until I graduated from Hart, I got to march in the Newhall Fourth of July Parade. We didn’t wear uniforms but usually had on jeans, white T-shirts, some sort of shoes and our instruments. I remember leading the parade. That was unusual for a marching band because the organizers of other parades like to put bands behind horses – lots of horses.

Those horses and the white buck shoes that went with our uniforms meant many of us had shoes of a whole different color. And odors, too.

The Newhall Fourth of July Parade has been going on since about 1932, they say. It almost didn’t happen one year because Los Angeles County didn’t issue a parade permit. The intrepid and always vigilant citizens had a parade anyway. They even carried a Confederate battle flag to let the “leaders” at Los Angeles County know they were rebelling against the tyranny of our oppressive county royalty. We don’t have to ask the county anymore. They treated us so well, we formed our own city.

The parade route has grown a little through the years. It used to start around Newhall and Lyons then go up San Fernando Road or Main Street to Hart Park. It wasn’t a long parade, but it was fun.

Up in Acton there is a parade, too. Folks start setting up chairs, tents and RVs along Crown Valley Road a couple of days before the parade. The first time I saw all of those chairs and things, I wondered if it was going to be a huge yard sale. Got to love a community where you can put stuff out next to the street and know it will be there days later. Yes, even in California we can have some great moral values. Just don’t take what isn’t yours to have.

Now I’m not sure how many folks try to fight for spots to sit in Acton. There seems to be plenty of room for everyone. In Newhall it is a whole different matter even now that the parade is a lot longer. Last year there were a lot more folks watching than I expected.

What with Betty Boop getting washed, I might have to think about what I’m going to wear. As an old tradition that should be revived, I’m thinking the jeans and T-shirt ensemble. Of course in Newhall, one can always dress cowboy.

Rumor has it I might be driving a Democrat. I promise I will be as polite and gracious as I can. After all, every sailor knows how to do what he or she is told to do. I usually did that during all those years with the “Canoe Club.” At least most of the time. Mostly.

I hope I’m not following too many horses with my Jeep. My new set of tires tends to pick up stuff and throw it a fair distance. Guess you don’t want to be in the unit following me.

Now I’ll take some extra water this year and maybe a snack, too. Last year I got a little too much sun, so it will mean I’ll be using a lot of sunscreen and a large hat. You folks along the parade route be sure to watch your sun exposure, too.

I don’t know why I get so excited over our little parade. I guess it is just the fact it is our parade.

I’ve celebrated the Fourth of July all over the world including a couple of times under the sea. The parade in Washington, D.C., is great and has all kinds of high school bands. Yorktown and Williamsburg are also great places to wish the USA a “Happy Birthday.”

But there is just something about the Fourth in your own home town. It just seems a little more personal and a bunch more special.

I’ve got a secret concerning why I like to drive in the parade. I get to ignore all of the lights and stop signs along the whole route. Anytime you cannot get stopped at a light on Lyons is a good thing. A very good thing.

So bring your chairs and cool drinks, your sunscreen and your kids. If you see my little black Jeep and me, please be sure yell and wave. All of you folks doing that might make my passenger a little nervous if it turns out he or she is a Democrat. They don’t get cheered that much in the SCV. Let’s be gracious and celebrate our freedom and independence, forgetting politics for at least an hour or two. Come the 5th of July, I’ll return to my usual rants.

See all y’all at the parade.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley, where he serves as executive director of the SCV Historical Society. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived atDManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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  1. Yep. I’ve been saying that for the past couple of weeks. Crazy, huh?!

  2. Fireworks kick ass, dammit.

  3. Time will tell the level of stupidity!

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