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Flag Day parade returns to La Mesa

Families with young children and friendly dogs in tow cheered and waved for local organizations marching in the downtown La Mesa Flag Day parade on June 4.

The parade was held ten days before the nationally observed date of June 14 which former President Harry Truman signed into law in 1949.

Prior to the parade an announcement was made: residents were invited to enjoy a free ice cream from the La Mesa Community Relations and Veterans Commission as long as supplies held out for the sunny morning event.

La Mesa Police Officers greeted attendees with a smile and a wave along with a reminder to keep the streets clear for parade participants and Heartland Firefighters rolled down the street in truck 11 to applause.

Still, the parade which was first proposed by former Councilwoman Ruth Stirling in 1997 as a local display of patriotism and civic pride reflected indications of the past two tumultuous years.

Although Grossmont High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps opened the event by marching down La Mesa Boulevard with colors while many onlookers stood, saluted, or cheered, essential workers from Sharp Grossmont Hospital served as Grand Marshal for the parade, a choice that might not have happened without two years of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

City council members each made their way down the street in a slightly different fashion: newly-elected Laura Lothian processed in an open golf cart that allowed her to sit in shade while greeting constituents, Bill Baber perched atop a convertible Ford Mustang, Colin Parent walked the streets on foot and Jack Shu— an established environmental advocate— rode his bike.

Former city council member, now California Assembly member Akilah Weber also walked on foot and waved to La Mesans perched on sidewalks beneath fluttering American flags waving in the breeze.

Community organizations including La Mesa Free and Accepted Masons of Lodge 407, Revolutionary-war era Friendly Sons and Daughters of Saint Patrick, and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Camp 21 all took their turn marching through the streets on Saturday.

Hobbyist groups like the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, the San Diego Model ‘A’ Ford Association and the Mount Helix Park Foundation passed through town throughout the middle of the parade while youth groups like Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts marched in groups, American flags waving to the crowd.

Miss La Mesa, Miss Teen La Mesa and Junior Miss La Mesa rode along in convertibles, as did all four princesses from the Miss Black Global/Little Miss Black Global pageants as well as Mr. California.

Lake Murray Fireworks planners solicited donations for the Fourth of July celebration coming up in July, a show that hasn’t been held since 2019 due to COVID.

Onlookers familiar with local high school cadences chimed in with “We want fried chicken!” as the Grossmont High School Regiment marching band paused at regular intervals to show off their drumline skills, low brass instruments glinting in the sun.

Not to be outdone, budding performers from the Peter Pan Junior Theater company sang “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” show tunes as they paraded through the village.

Mayor Mark Arapostathis picked up the rear of the show, waving to residents from a green golf cart as the final entry in the parade.

Flag Day parade returns to La Mesa

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Source: East County Californian

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