When Peggy Christianson of Cambria hits her mark Saturday morning, Aug. 30, she won’t be dancing, acting, singing, directing or writing.
Instead, she’ll be riding and waving as she accepts applause and accolades from people who are grateful for the talents of their 2014 Pinedorado parade marshal.
Christianson, who’s due to turn 71 in a little more than a week, is leading the Pinedorado Follies show for the seventh time. She wrote and is producing and directing the modernized vaudevillian show that combines song, dance, comedy, slapstick, romance, wildlife and technology in a diverse package titled “Vacation: The Musical 2.” It’s a sequel to last year’s hit with a similar name and theme.
The multitalented Christianson bought her Cambria home in 1996. She became a full-time, full-speed-ahead resident two years later, after retiring as vice president of the Disney Channel, where she’d worked for 20 years. She had also been an executive in charge of production and original programming for network television.
In 1998, the community was in the midst of feverish fundraising to buy East West Ranch (now the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve) “to save the ranch from development. I joined Small Wilderness Area Preservation (SWAP) and helped organize myriad fundraisers to help purchase the ranch,” she wrote in an email interview Aug. 4. “It was crunch time.”
The effort was successful, and in approximately one year, the community of about 6,400 raised the required local match of $2 million toward the $11.1 million cost. Cambrians, through their services district, now own the approximately 430 acres of hilly, forested oceanfront property in the middle of town.
Christianson subsequently became chairperson of the SWAP offshoot, North Coast SWAP, a post she held in 2001 and 2002. “I was lucky enough to be there when we got all that important stuff done.”
The next year, she began writing, producing and directing the Pinedorado Follies, injecting it with so much humor and talent that now, at the start of each year’s ticket sales, people line up hours early in front of the Cambria Chamber of Commerce to score prime reserved seats in the first eight rows of the Veterans Memorial Building.
General admission seating fills the remainder of the hall.
This year’s show will hit the stage at 7 p.m. each night from Wednesday, Aug. 27, through Sunday, Aug. 31.
All net profits from the show go to Pinedorado’s sponsor, the Lions Club, and from there back to the community in various donations to nonprofits, service clubs, student scholarships and projects.
Busier than ever
Some Follies benefits are more obvious than others. For instance, the relatively new curtain that will rise on each performance was bought with Follies ticket-sale money, Christianson noted. (She’s an honorary Lion.)
Even during her five-year hiatus from the Follies, from 2008 through 2012, the always-active Christianson couldn’t just rest and relax.
In 2009, she produced and directed the high school’s spring musical, “Leader of the Pack.” And she’s taught line dancing for a decade, with proceeds again going to the Lions Club.
“My title today is ‘retired,’ ” she said a few years ago. “But I’m working harder than ever.”
Even with all her credentials, both with Disney and the community of Cambria, Christianson is anticipating her upcoming parade gig.
“I am a grandmother, but I have never been a grand marshal! I’m looking forward to it.”