Parade Pays Tribute to Returning Soldiers


Surfing school owner James Pribram and the Laguna College of Art and Design will roll in two new categories for the 45th annual Patriot’s Day Parade tomorrow, March 5, starting at 11 a.m.

Commencing on Park Avenue, Laguna’s one-and-only parade will travel through the village business district, with a judges’ reviewing stand in front of City Hall on Forest Avenue. The hour-and 40-minute procession of decorated floats, marching bands, and historic figures as well as local musicians, custom cars, goofy costumes, dressed-up dogs and familiar Laguna personalities turns out the town.  “Half the town’s in it and the other half’s watching it,” said Charles Quilter, parade vice president and one of its frenetically efficient organizers.




Members of the Young Marines get reay to march with a huge American flag near Laguna Beach High School. Photo: Ted Reckas.

Unique to this year’s parade are Athlete of the Year, which was bestowed on Pribram, and Artist of the Year, presented to the Laguna College of Art and Design and specifically to retiring president Dennis Power.

This year’s theme is “Welcome Home,” honoring the reduced military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the soldiers who have or are now heading back to families and friends here in the states, Quilter stated.


“We’re not for war,” said Quilter, a retired Marine who has served in four military conflicts, starting with Vietnam.  “We’re celebrating the end of war and U.S. involvement.  The nation has demanded a lot from these young people, who have served arduous and multiple tours, and we’re glad they’re coming home.” Quilter added that the parade is nonpartisan and nonsectarian.


Although no one current soldier is being singled out under the Welcome-Home theme, Quilter said the parade is honoring 12 Lagunans who have returned as well as acknowledging a significant time in U.S. history when American participation in Iraq and Afghanistan is winding down.


The Patriot’s Day Parade is a traditional celebration of the community as well as the country.  “The parade is a right-of-passage,” Quilter said.  “If you live in Laguna Beach, you’ve probably been in it.”


Pribram is one such Laguna native.  He grew up watching the parade as well as surfing and now operates Aloha School of Surfing on Thalia Street.  After contracting a staph infection while teaching off of Doheny Beach in Dana Point, he decided to use his voice as a columnist in the Coastline Pilot newspaper as well as professional surfer to draw attention to cleaning up ocean waters.  He has paddled out to protect whales in Japan and traveled to and written about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pollution pulp mills off the coast of Chile.


“I think our oceans and beaches are crying for our help,” said Pribram, who recently sailed from Brazil to South Africa to observe the gyre of floating plastic debris in the South Atlantic.  When he returned, a voicemail message told him he was selected as the parade’s first Athlete of the Year, a decision weighted by his environmental involvement. Pribram said the award was immediately humbling.  “I’m only one of hundreds or thousands of eco warriors,” said Pribram. “I’m just happy to be mentioned in the same breath as those people and the surfers before me who grew up in Laguna Beach.”
Pribram sees combining ecology with his first love of surfing as bringing his life full circle.  “The everyday person is becoming better-educated about what’s happening to our environment and is participating in making a difference.  It’s about waking people up and saying we need to do something about this right now.  I think people are listening.”


The other new honorary category is Artist of the Year.  Quilter said the parade committee decided to honor Power, who has served as LCAD’s president for six years, because of his accomplishments improving the 50-year-old art school that focuses on representational art.

Carter Ghere, 5, took cover from the light sprinkling at the beginning of the parade. Photo: Ted Reckas.

Power, who is retiring in June, is credited with adding an accredited master of fine arts program in painting and drawing, computer-tech courses in game art and digital design, and dormitories.  Enrollment has increased by a third to 400 students during his tenure.


The curriculum is now “more relevant to the Southern California area by having graphic design, game art and even illustration,” said Power.  “The college is really training the next generation of great artists as well as designers, not just people who are painting and drawing.” Power will ride with Jonathan Burke, current LCAD vice-president who has been at the college for 31 years.


Pat Kollenda, whose googly-eyed animated expressions alone can crack the staunchest composure, is being honored as Citizen of the Year.  “Any woman who’s made me laugh over three decades is worthy of all honors,” said Quilter.  “She’s the grand dame of our stage.  It’s an honor that’s been a long time coming.”


Kollenda said she’s not really “Mrs. Laguna,” although she’s volunteered for countless civic organizations over the last 30 years.  “I’m more ‘Mrs. Let’s Have Fun.’  My favorite thing is to make people laugh.  That’s one reason I’ll never use botox.”


Patriot of the Year recognition goes to 93-year-old Frank Keneley, who was freed as a WWII prisoner of war by General Patton’s 3rd Army.  He later owned a pharmacy in South Laguna for more than 20 years. Keneley said he accepts Laguna’s high honor of Patriot of the Year in memory of “all those young men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and did not return.”


Al Roberts and Ken Jillson, who raised AIDS awareness in Laguna by establishing the AIDS Services Foundation in 1985, are this year’s grand marshalls.  ASF was funded in part by “The Big Splash,” a 25-year run of irreverent annual comedy shows written by Jillson.


Junior Citizens of the Year are Caroline Rechter, co-president of Avenue Cure for AIDS awareness and stage manager for Laguna Beach High School’s Park Avenue Players, and Ben Hanson, LBHS football and track star, student body vice-president and volunteer for special education programs.



Patriot’s Day Parade Lineup

l.      Laguna Beach Police Motor Escort
2.     Parade Banner, Laguna Beach Boy Scouts
3.     United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, Barstow
4.     Laguna Beach High School Marching Band
5.     Parade President Michael Lyons
6.     Parade Theme Banner, Laguna Beach Girl Scouts
7.     Grand Marshals Al Roberts and Ken Jillson
8.     American Legion Post 222/Veterans of Foreign Wars
Combined Color Guard
9.     Honored Patriot Frank Keneley, U.S. Army Air Corps
10.   South Orange County Vietnam Veterans
11.   Citizen of the Year Pat Kollenda
12.   Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association
13.   Laguna Beach Unified School District Board
14.   Junior Citizens of the Year Caroline Rechter
and Ben Hanson
15.   Laguna Beach High School Alumni Association
16.   Laguna Beach Unified School District Elementary Band
17.   SchoolPower
18.   Artists of the Year Laguna College of Art & Design
19.   Athlete of the Year James Pribram
20.   Patience Wright NS, Daughters of the American Revolution
21.   Orange County Chapter, Sons of American Revolution
22.   Exchange Club of Laguna Beach
23.   Laguna Beach City Council and Officers
24.   Boy Scout Troop 35/Cub Scout Pack 35
25.   Laguna Beach Girl Scouts
26.   San Clemente Scots
27.   Laguna Beach Police Department
28.   AIDS Services Foundation
29.   Pacific Marine Mammal Center
30.   Laguna Beach Little League
31.   Antelope Valley High School Band, Lancaster
32.   National Children’s Study
33.   Laguna Beach Seniors
34.   Ralphs Grocery
35.   Guide Dogs for the Blind, VIP3 Puppy Raisers
36.   Soroptimist International of Laguna Beach
37.   Kyne Dance Academy
38.   Walt and Pamela Otto
39.   Animal Crackers Pet Rescue
40.   Rotary Club of Laguna Beach
41.   Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach
42.   LaPlaya Center/Orange County Model A Ford Club
43.   Bassett High School Band, La Puente
44.   Laguna News-Post
45.   Y-Adventure Guides
46.   Assisteens
47.   Pageant of the Masters
48.   Laguna Beach Independent
49.   Laguna Beach Library
50.   Laguna Beach Fire Department
51.   City of Laguna Beach Marine Safety Department
52.   Laguna Beach County Water District
53.   Laguna Beach Water Polo Club
54.   Rialto Middle School Band, Rialto
55.   Doctor’s Ambulance
56.   Mission Hospital—Laguna Beach
57.   Susan G. Komen for the Cure
58.   Excalibur Car Club
59.   Coastline Pilot
60.   No Square Theatre
61.   Capistrano Valley Model A Club
63.   Laguna Board of Realtors
64.   Affiliates of the Board of Realtors
65.   First Team Estates
66.   Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
and Laguna Canyon Foundation “Keep It Wild”
67.   Foothills Middle School Band, Arcadia
68.   Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce
69.   HIP District
70.   Ebell Club of Laguna Beach
71.   Tommy Bahama—Laguna Beach
72.   Laguna Beach Garden Club
73.   Tivoli Terrace/Tivoli Too!
74.   Sawdust Art Festival
75.   Oak Avenue Intermediate School Band, Temple City
76.   Laguna Beach Film Society
77.   Laguna Laughter Club
78.   Beach City Mopeds
79.   Laguna Playhouse
80.   Laguna Beach Community Clinic
81.   Laguna Coffee Company
82.   Fountain Valley Marching Band
83.   Diamond Crestview Neighbors
84.   Kings Order of El Mysah
85.   Mel Jackson Fitness Through Dance
86.   Hobie Sports
87.   Townsend Junior High School Band, Chino Hills
88.   Village Laguna
89.   Ruby’s Diner—Laguna Beach
90.   Waste Management of Orange County
91.   Zero Trash
92.   United Studios of Self Defense
93.   Oaks Middle School Band, Ontario
94.   Orange County Peace Corps Association
95.   Dizz’s Restaurant
96.   Peter Salomon/WWII Rangers Lead the Way
97.   Transition Laguna Beach
98.   Honors Chorus of Top of the World/El Morro Elementary Schools
99.   Dolce Gelato
100. Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club
101. Laguna Beach Lifeguard Association
102. Richard Leger
103. Company 77 “Mobile Pizza Unit”
104. Spurs & Satin

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