The Cambrian

Marine Band, Soto family among parade highlights

The annual Pinedorado celebration draws thousands of people to Cambria each Labor Day weekend, but a unifying attraction often is the Saturday morning parade, which brings music, floats, old and new vehicles, dogs, horses and a healthy dose of whimsy right down Main Street.

This year’s parade is to feature 68 entries (not counting the calliope), which are to walk, roll, ride, strut, drive, march or otherwise perambulate down the town’s main drag, starting at 9:30 a.m.

There are some traffic admonitions: Burton Drive from Eton Drive to Main Street and the full length of Main Street will close to through traffic at 9 a.m.

Parking will be available near Fiscalini Ranch Preserve’s Rodeo Grounds area, just south of the Santa Rosa Creek Bridge on downtown Burton Drive.

In the parade

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band appears early in the parade, just after the Lions calliope and three color guards, one of which is the Municipal Motorcycle Officers of California.

The latter group includes motorcycle Officer Kevin Cotter, a Los Angeles police officer who was deemed a “Top Cop” in the nation by President Barack Obama. Cotter is credited with saving numerous lives in 2011 when he engaged a deranged suspect in a gun battle after the suspect had shot numerous people in a downtown Hollywood intersection. The American Legion and the LAPD awarded Cotter with medals of honor. He’s to be at the front of the group, wearing a vintage 1942 LAPD uniform and riding a restored 1942 LAPD Harley Davidson.

Also in the group will be Officer Joe Gomez, who saved a CHP officer from being pulled to his death by a “jumper” at Highway 101 and 154, near Buellton. Gomez, who is to receive the CHP Medal of Valor, was on his way to a previous Pinedorado Parade when the incident happened.

Following the Marine band will be Barbara Banner, a former Cambria resident who served as in World War II as a Marine photographer. Her late husband, Frank Banner, was a 22-year-old sergeant when he led a platoon of young recruits to the base of Mt. Suribachi in Iwo Jima. He and they provided cover fire for the servicemen who raised the U.S. flag at the mountain top, the photograph of which created an iconic image of patriotism under fire.

Entry No. 7 is members of the vast pioneer Soto family, ranchers being honored as the 2012 parade grand marshals. The group represents seven generations of cattle ranchers and agriculturists in the Cambria area. Among the riders will be five members who are in their 80s or close to it.

The parade then turns to youngsters and scouts, Lions Club officials, community groups, service clubs and nonprofit groups, the upcoming Scarecrow festival and Oktoberfest, businesses and their representatives, antique and classic cars, equestrians, Elks members, high school and other bands, churches, high school Boosters, animals, bicyclists, Masons, Shrine clowns, emergency crews, dancers, a drum corps and various individual entries.

Marine Band

This is the third year running with a Marine Band appearance. That’s a tribute to the town’s warm welcomes, according to Pinedorado Chairman Greg Wilson. “They say they love spending time in this hospitable town.”

The band will be met mid-afternoon Friday by Legion riders and others who will welcome them and escort them through downtown Cambria.

About 160 townspeople are expected to join the Marine band members at a dinner at the Veterans Memorial Building Friday, Aug. 31, which could be followed by a performance by some of the band members. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; dinner is at 6.

Contributions help defray the costs of bringing the band to Pinedorado, according to Legion Post Cmdr. Terry Farrell. For details on the dinner and other band events, call him at 924-1814.

The Marine band will perform a free concert at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St. Some chairs will be provided, but attendees should either arrive quite early to stake out their spots, or bring chairs from home (sunscreen’s a good idea, too).

“I want to see the place packed,” Farrell said Tuesday, Aug. 28. “This is a premier band giving a free concert in our little town. How great is that?”