Solvang might focus on its Danish heritage the rest of the year, but the small town was all American on Thursday as patriotic entries traveled along streets where Santa Ynez Valley residents and tourists alike celebrated Independence Day.
Approximately 70 entries from across the Santa Ynez Valley and beyond participated in the procession, with the theme of “We the People.”
The Solvang Rotary Club organized the parade.
“The participants were very creative and entertaining. The weather was perfect. The spectators were full of enthusiasm,” said Rotarian Steve Palmer, parade chairman. “The community was supportive and welcoming.”
“Visitors from around the world were among the thousands watching the Solvang parade. When asked how far folks traveled to be here from the announcers stand, excited visitors as far as Asia, Africa, and Europe all shouted out,” added Allan Jones, master of ceremonies:
Former aerospace worker Rutledge “Putty” Mills of Santa Ynez and his wife, Carol, rode in a place of honor at the parade’s grand marshals.
They were followed by a vintage tractor towing the lunar rover the World War II veteran helped produce for some of NASA's Apollo missions.
The small-town event attracted thousands of parade watchers, some of whom shouted greetings to participants by name.
Other participants tossed candy to children watching from the sidelines; one bicyclist didn't forget the four-legged, tail-wagging parade watchers by providing dog treats.
Another entry prompted a water war as Santa Ynez Valley Union High School water polo players sprayed spectators who were armed with their own weapons to soak the athletes.
City Council members from Solvang and Buellton also participated, along with Third District county Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who cycled along the route.
“Happy Fourth of July,” Hartmann shouted to the crowd several rows deep on the sidewalks in some spots.
Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, noting “We the people save lives,” included a float touting the importance of washing hands, with youths sporting shirts saying “I’m a germ” and adults wearing shorts saying “Clean hands save lives.”
Another participant was 2019 Danish Maid Gillian Nielsen, who will reign over the 83rd annual Danish Days celebration from Sept. 20 through 22 — and ride in that parade.
Awards were handed out for variety of categories, including Best Viking Ship to the Vikings of Solvang and Best Candy Thrower to Rich Condit.
Other awards handed out during the parade included:
» Sweepstakes Winner – Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital “Clean Hands Saves Lives”
» Best Use of Parade Theme – Friends Of Buellton and Solvang Libraries “We The People Value Literacy.”
» Most Patriotic – Patriotic Horsemen
» Most Original – Willow Creek Ranch Friends & Family
» Most Unique – Ernie Bankston’s Radio Flyer
» Most Creative – Wilding Museum/Los Padres ForestWatch
» Best Band – Santa Ynez Valley Jazz ensemble
» Best Singing Group – Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
» Best Singing – Single – McKenna Smith sings The National Anthem
» Best Family Group – Crowell/Morsch Family Reunion
» Best Church Group – Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church
» Best Senior Group – Atterdag Village of Solvang
» Best Animal Group – Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society
» Best Wagon Group – San Lorenzo Seminary
» Best Wagon – Single – Capuchin Franciscans Vocation Office
» Best Automobile Group – Local Metropolitan Car Owners
» Best Automobile – Single – Richard Abrams’ 1947 Ford
» Best Automobile – Restored – Charles Linquiti’s 1949 Farmall Tractor
» Best Automobile – Antique – Dr. John Baeke’s 1924 Brown race car
» Best Automobile Antique Group – Model A Clubs of Santa Ynez Valley & Santa Maria
» Best Fire Engine – Alex Geremia’s St. Francis Ranch1928 Sanford
» Best Tractor – Larry Grossini’s 1948 Case
» Best Equestrian Group – Cowgirls, Ponytails, & Horsetails
» Best Donkey Group – Monighetti’s Farrier – Feed & Pet
» Best Color Guard – American Legion Post #160
» Road Apple Crew – Lucky Clover 4-H Teams
» Best Clown – Lompoc Shrine Club
» Best Sport Group – Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Football Team
» Best Military Group – Flat Fender Friends
» Best Walking Group – Swedish Candy Factory
» Best Dancing Group – Garcia Dance Studio
» Most Energetic – PCPA’ Million Dollar Quartet
» Best Group for a Cause – Veggie Rescue
» Best School Group – Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Water Polo Team
» Best Youth Group – Lucky Clover 4-H
The day-long celebration continued into the night as the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club also organized the annual Solvang Independence Day Festival & Fireworks Show at Mission Santa Ines.
“A Rotarian mentioned to me while wearing his Rotary hat in town, he received many thanks from strangers for Rotary’s volunteer efforts to put on the parade,” Jones added.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.