By Mary-Justine Lanyon
During the massive snowstorms this past winter, it became apparent that the only way residents would get through it was by “neighbor helping neighbor.”
In keeping with that sentiment, the theme of this year’s Blue Jay holiday parade is “It Takes a Village.”
The parade began in 1979, making this year the 44th parade. Weather has only led to the parade’s cancellation a couple of times in all those years.
It was organized first by the Blue Jay Business Association, then the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce and now by the Women’s Club of Lake Arrowhead, under the direction of Polly Sauer and Linda Miller.
“We had to save the parade,” Miller said. “We couldn’t let it go by the wayside.”
When Miller and her husband, Bill, moved to the mountain in 1981, friends told them they had to get their children ready and go to the parade. It took place at 5 p.m. then, Miller said.
“We got bundled up and got our hot chocolate. Here come the flags, then the Rim High band, the grand marshal and Santa. That was it! It was over in five minutes. Our hot chocolate hadn’t even cooled down enough to drink it.
“Our friends were laughing,” Miller recollected, “because they knew what this parade was like and what I was used to down the hill.”
Over the years, Miller has watched the parade grow. “Did you know,” she asked, “that we’re in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest parade with the most entries?”
This year there will be 45 entries – a number that is limited by the length of time they can have Highway 189 through Blue Jay closed.
“We’ll have 1,000 people show up to watch the parade,” Miller said. She laughed as she recalled marching first with the chamber and their shovel drill team and then running back to march with Bill’s Villager. Some folks, she agreed, have been known to march with three or four groups.
“I think it’s necessary for the community to have the parade,” Miller said. “It gives the kids in Scouts, in the Mountain Fifes & Drums, from the martial arts schools, in the strings program, in the school bands to showcase their abilities.
“People get to see who’s who and what they stand for,” she added. “They stand for the community. It’s the biggest event on the mountain.”
This year’s parade will, as always, take place on the first Saturday in December – Dec. 2. The parade steps off at 2 p.m. but people arrive much earlier to get a good spot from which to watch their friends and neighbors march by.
This year’s grand marshals are Wayne and Maria Carter, who own and operate Country Furniture and Modern Lodge Furniture.
Lewis Murray has noted that Supervisor Dawn Rowe will be taking part in the parade, riding in a 1966 Mustang convertible that he will be driving.
Santa himself always puts in an appearance at the end of the parade, heralding in the Christmas season.
Awards will be given this year for the best “It Take a Village” theme, the mistress of ceremonies choice, the best musical presentation and outstanding humor.