Solvang’s Independence Day parade
Kids wave to Santa Barbara County firefighters from Station 30 in Solvang during Sunday’s Independence Day parade put on by the Solvang Rotary Club. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Solvang on Sunday morning to celebrate the Fourth of July with the return of the annual parade sponsored by the Solvang Rotary Club.

“It’s very important to the community of Solvang and the citizens of this state that the Fourth of July is celebrated just like it was two years ago,” said Art Kaslow, the club’s president. “Very important that we don’t lose any of the traditions or celebrations.”

The Solvang Rotary Club normally puts on the Independence Day parade every year, but last year’s procession was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Fourth of July parade has taken place on Highway 246 (Mission Drive) in the past, this year’s parade took a different route through the downtown area since organizers didn’t have time to secure state permits for the normal route.

The parade started at Alisal Road and Oak Street, went up to Copenhagen Drive, then west to Second Street, south to Oak Street, and back to Alisal Road.

The theme of this year’s parade was “God Bless America” and first responders “on the frontline keeping us safe” were honored as the grand marshals.

Emergency room staff, along with their families, from Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital waved to people watching, as they chanted “we care for you,” followed by several U.S. military veterans and Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.

“We loved (the parade),” Solvang resident Macy Weiser said. “It was so cute and so charming.

We’re very happy that people can come visit and things are opening back up again so we can really get to experience the community and enjoy this little cute, small town.”

A total of 52 entries were in the parade, consisting of local organizations walking, dancing or riding the parade route in vintage cars, bicycles, horses, fire trucks, and even California Tacos’ food truck.

Solvang’s Independence Day parade

Among the Solvang parade’s honorees were Air Force veterans Rudie Henderson, left, who served in the Korean War, and Al Salge, who served in Vietnam. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

The Vikings of Solvang towed its giant carved Viking through the parade, as well as a Viking ship float that members rode in as they waved to spectators.

The Solvang Trolley & Carriage Company utilized its two newly inaugurated electric trolleys to transport the Solvang City Council, as well as its horse-drawn trolley with two Belgian draft horses.

The Buellton City Council and county Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann also made appearances in the parade.

Several participants tossed candy to children or sprayed spectators with water guns.

Meanwhile, Veggie Rescue, a local nonprofit organization that collects and distributes excess produce from farms and farmers markets, drove its truck down the route and handed out bags of baby carrots.

After the parade concluded, guests were invited to migrate to Solvang Park, where bands played live music and the Rotary Club had set up a food booth to sell sandwiches, ice cream, chips, beverages and more.

The traditional evening fireworks show, organized by the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club, was canceled for the second year in a row.

Solvang’s Independence Day parade

Equestrians wave to spectators during Solvang’s Independence Day parade. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

The recent reopening from the pandemic did not seem to detract from people enjoying the festivities in Solvang, as the parade attracted a large crowd.

“It’s really been two years and there’s been this pent-up demand for people to be in a park (to celebrate),” Kaslow said. “(The number of people who attended) is probably about what we had two years ago. I would say it’s about the same.”

The 2021 Parade Awards and recipients were:

» Sweepstakes – Flat Fender Friends

» Best Use of Parade Theme – Daughters of the American Revolution

» Most Patriotic – “Stars & Stripes” Bill Hopper’s Mustang Dr. Crew

» Most Original – Caleb Moon, 2021 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Junior Barrellman

» Most Amusing – The Bachelor Ben Sieke

» Most Creative – Jon Anderson’s Tiny Art Cars

» Best Band – Tequileros Jovenes

» Best Singing Group – Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

» Best Singing – Single – Amanda Kadlubek, Santa Ynez Valley Community Connection

» Best Family Group – Webb Family Van der Stahl Scientific

» Best Church Group – San Lorenzo Seminary

» Best Senior Group – Atterdag Village of Solvang

» Best Wagon – Single – Ernest Bankston’s Radio Flyer Wagon

» Best Automobile Group – Model A Clubs of Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria

» Best Automobile – Single – Jeff & Barbara Winter’s 1966 Shelby GT-350 Fastback

» Best Automobile – Restored – Michael & Elizabeth Snyder’s 1964 Black Cadillac Convertible

» Best Automobile – Antique – Ron & Cindy Long’s Midnight Blue 1936 Ford Deluxe Roadster

» Best Fire Engine – Solvang Fire Station 30

» Best Tractor – Greg Fanning’s 5520 John Deere with a 9-foot disc

» Best Equestrian Group – Charros of Santa Ynez

» Best Equestrian – Single – Rod Simmon of Solvang Riders

» Best Viking Ship – Vikings of Solvang

» Best Color Guard – American Legion Post #160

» Best Street Sweeper – SP Maintenance

» Road Apple Crew – Santa Ynez Valley Horseback Riders

» Best Sport Group – Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Water Polo Teams

» Best Dancing Group – Garcia Dance Studio

» Most Energetic – Patty’s Pickleball Express

» Best Group for a Cause – Buellton Senior Center Santa Ynez Valley Community Outreach

» Best School Group – Arabian Horse Riding Academy

» Best Audience Participation – Veggie Rescue

» Best Dog – Tiny Art Cars

» Best Candy Throwers – Vikings of Solvang

» Best Trolley – Solvang Trolley & Ice Cream Parlor

» Best Medical Group – Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital staff

— Serena Guentz is a local freelance writer. Contact her at

Serena Guentz, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at