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Parade’s Trailblazers Join the Retinue

Two descendants of founding members of Laguna Beach’s annual Patriot’s Day Parade will share a place of honor in this year’s parade on Saturday, March 5, riding alongside its president Michael Lyons.

One of the parade’s original organizers, Grace Wethe.

Laguna Beach artist Robin Wethe Altman returns to the town’s annual parade that her grandmother, Grace Wethe, helped start in 1966. It’s a reappearance for her, having ridden in the very first parade dressed as a pilgrim and subsequently atop her horse and costumed with a tri-corner hat as the colonial-era revolutionary Paul Revere.

Expect to see Altman as a passenger in the fifth entry in the company of Pasadena’s Natalie Ross Russell, great granddaughter of Emily Ross and a contemporary of Altman’s grandmother. Articles about the early parade mention them, friends through the Daughters of the American Revolution, according to the contemporary parade organizer, Sandi Werthe.

Wethe’s granddaughter, Robin, as a pilgrim in the first 1966 parade.

“I remember my grandma being on the phone all the time,” said Altman, now 56, whose grandmother, then in her 70s, moved in with her family not long after they settled in Laguna about 1960. Her father was a Marine Corps pilot stationed at the now defunct El Toro marine base. “Being patriotic was not too popular then,” Altman said, citing the public’s attitude toward the Vietnam war. “She felt sad servicemen weren’t honored.”

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