By Allison Jarrell, Special to the Independent
Hundreds of Laguna residents gathered on Brooks Street to celebrate the nation’s independence, honor local servicemen, and commemorate a neighbor who lost his life 10 years ago protecting their freedom.
Brooks Street resident and event organizer Steve Cohn said the July 4 parade tradition, which was originally started in 2007 by resident Howard Hills, began as a modest gathering of 25 or so people who walked up and down the block following a flag raising to honor local veterans.
But the event took on an even more personal meaning for Brooks Street residents in 2008 when their neighbor Mark Metherell, a 39-year-old Laguna native and Navy Seal who served two tours of duty, was killed in Iraq. The neighborhood organized a paddle out in Metherell’s honor, which now takes place every year after the Fourth of July parade.
“On Brooks Street, we have a constant reminder of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice to protect our country and keep it free and an open society,” Cohn said. “We want to remember Mark and his sacrifice, and all those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for our freedom and our security.”
South Laguna neighbors marked the Fourth with a flurry of patriotic decorations, snow cones and a hands-free donut eating game. While in previous years, the parade set out for a potluck block party, this year’s parade goers set out for a day at Thousand Steps Beach.
Though picnic tables were claimed at the Montage resort park by 6:30 a.m., Sgt. Jim Cota said no serious issues occurred among the influx of visitors to mar festivities.