Written and produced by Jim Anderson – Vice Chair, Festival of Balloons
What are your plans for the Fourth of July? If you’re like many South Pasadena folks, you may be planning to enjoy a day of local celebration started many years ago by a small group of residents. Ted and Joan Shaw, Michael Sandford, Mark and Rosemary Whitney, Bob and Claudia Fosselman, Joe and Lydia Banales, Gail and Bob Fabbro, and David Margrave had an idea to celebrate our nation’s birth with “a little parade”.
It started out 38 years ago as the “Fourth of July Extravaganza” which marched a few blocks down Mission Street.
As years went on Bob Fosselman suggested the parade needed a defining characteristic. There was the Rose Parade to the north; what would the South Pasadena Parade symbol be? The group decided balloons would add a festive air to the celebration. Of course being Independence Day, the balloons should be red, white and blue.
It has grown, with the support of local community groups, the city, and the community at large, into a full day of activities for all ages. Beginning with a Kiwanis pancake breakfast at the firehouse and ending with a spectacular fireworks show at the high school stadium, there is no reason to leave town, or even get in your car, for that matter.
With the parade now traveling down Mission Street to the games and festivities in Garfield Park, the entire celebration takes place in the center of town. And that small group of residents has grown into a cooperative effort of a city committee, many community organizations, and dozens of city staff, police officers, fire fighters and public works employees, not to mention the school district.
This year, the 38th annual “Festival of Balloons” celebration, is themed, “To the Moon and Beyond-50 Years of Exploring America’s Freedom.”
Each year the committee tries to find a theme that commemorates a special anniversary, but also provides an inspiration for local fifth graders to design posters which decorate the parade route. Many locals claim there are more people in the parade than watching it. That is probably an exaggeration, but it certainly is an opportunity for local organizations, neighborhood groups and individuals to get together and “strut their stuff.”
Trophies are awarded at the fireworks show for the best entries and it is always a fun, hometown party.
The committee is always looking for happy, fun loving folks to join the group. If you’re interested, give Rosemary Whitney a call at 323-255-7776. See you on the Fourth and don’t forget your balloons!