Cambrian: Opinion

‘I do love our parade’: It’s an honor to serve as Pinedorado grand marshal

“I love a parade. A handful of vets,

“A line of cadets or any brigade.

“For I love a parade.”

— Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, 1931

Of course, I love a parade. Especially our own.

In community parades from Cambria to Paso, Arroyo Grande to Cayucos and beyond, most grand marshals have been unquestionably deserving agriculturists, entrepreneurs, community spark-plugs, artists, musicians, politicians, prominent members of the sponsoring group and/or dedicated volunteers from other service clubs and nonprofits.

So, how does it feel to have been selected by the Cambria Lion’s Club as grand marshal of their 2018 Pinedorado parade?

Mind blown.

It was such a surprise! I’m humbly honored to represent the little community we all love. I’m grateful, astonished, feeling a bit unworthy and embarrassed … and, yes, believe it or not, speechless.


Town-wide celebrations like Pinedorado are such a treat: Watching youngsters riding the rides or trying to win that special prize; seeing a 3 year old tackle her first corn-on-the-cob; or a 5 year old’s first successful try at swinging the hammer and ringing the bell; or the 11 year old tossing tokens into Coke glasses so she can take them home.

Reconnecting with old friends I haven’t seen in …. my goodness, it’s been THAT long?

This will be the 47th year I’ve attended the Labor Day-weekend festivities. I’ve ridden in the Pinedorado parade before, on floats or in my 1971 MGB. I’ve even walked the entire parade route several times (it’s a long 1.5 miles, isn’t it?).

And I’ve been in other parades countywide, including the first San Luis Obispo holiday parade, sharing an entry with KSLY 1400’s crazy-man Captain Buffoon, program director Guy Paul Hackman and other radio station staffers.

I’m not, however, the first Tanner to be a Pinedorado parade grand marshal. In 2010, Husband Richard and about three dozen other World War II veterans and “Rosie the Riveters” led that year’s procession. (And before you leap to any age conclusions, ours IS a May-December marriage!)

I never knew before what grand marshal-hood really meant.

Pinedorado Parade015
Cambria Grammar School kids and teachers make their way down Main Street during last year’s Pinedorado Parade in Cambria. Laura Dickinson

Now I do.

Wikipedia says some courts have had grand marshals, and so do some auto races — the luckiest race marshals get to drive the pace car or yell, “Start your engines!”

There’s even a grand marshal in “Star Wars,” considered the “highest conjectural rank of the TIE fighter forces in the universe.”

Grand marshal for this year’s Rose Parade in Portland, Oregon, was Diesel, an English Mastiff … no canine comments from the peanut gallery, please. Remember when Cambria’s honorary mayor from 1992 to 2000 was Sparky the Fire Dog?

During the decades, Pinedorado has had 10 women grand marshals, and another 10 ladies served as co-marshals with their husbands.

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But what about grand ladies? The parade actually had grand ladies before it had grand marshals.

There used to be Pinedorado princesses, too, in a competition that was 10 percent contest of beauty and smarts, and 90 percent fundraising, supposedly done by the girls.

Imagine trying to do that now, in the cellphone era. They’d probably all be on Gofundme.

In 1953, Don Evans of Cayucos was Pinedorado’s first grand marshal, Mrs. Ed Kester was grand lady and Gladys Cooper was “most popular lady.”

Among the agricultural grand marshals at Pinedorado (and probably in other parades around the county) have included members of the Fiscalini, Soto, Warren, Porte, Storni, Williams, Rhoades, Bassi, Negranti, Fitzhugh, Taylor, Gibson, Linn and Hearst families.

Fun times and walks down Memory Lane.

When rancher Will Warren was Pinedorado grand marshal in 1978, he was celebrating his 100th birthday and his second time as the parade’s leader (his first was in 1962).

Pinedorado Paradesecond
Cambria Girl and Boy Scouts and 4H kids walk with a large American flag during last year’s Pinedorado Parade. Laura Dickinson

For Mary Negranti’s second grand marshal stint in 1990, she wore a bright-red, punk-style wig. She was 95.

In 1986, three Soto sisters — Lila, Margaret and Betty Soto Williams — shared the marshal honors. In 2012, the entire North Coast Soto family served as grand marshal.

In 1987, four Cambria Lions shared the honors: Eddie Shaug and Bing Boisen, who helped save the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse lens in 1949; laundry owner Leon Bordegaray, who was also the Cambria

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Community Services District’s first general manager; and Joaquin “Pico” Soto of Soto’s Market.

And at least one famous non-marshal totally stole the show.

In 1957, crooner/actor Bing Crosby rode horseback in the parade, as did grand marshal W.R. “Bill” Hearst, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning publisher, reporter, editor and second son of the legendary William Randolph Hearst.

What an honor to join them all! Thank you, Lions Club, because I do love our parade, and I’m so proud to be part of it.

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