Parade Steps Off With Special Honorees


By Charlie Warner, Special to the Independent

Amy Jackson, left, and Pam Wicks, right, add color to the 2016 parade. This year's sets out on Saturday, March 4, on Park Avenue.
Amy Jackson, left, and Pam Wicks, right, add color to the 2016 parade. This year’s sets out on Saturday, March 4, on Park Avenue.

The 51st Patriots Day Parade just around the corner is lining up to be a special one. With 86 entries, the parade will feature patriotic fervor from the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution to World War II and Vietnam veterans as well as athletic stand-outs like an Olympic gold medalist.

The parade’s honorees will all be riding in style in different collectible vintage cars driven by their respective owners. The grand marshals of the parade are hometown sisters, Aria and Makenzie Fischer, water polo gold medalists in the 2016 Olympics.

“This parade is a great show of how close our community is as a whole,” said Aria, a Laguna Beach High School senior, who has participated in the parade several times before in other entries. “It’s nice to see how much support the community has for each other.”

Unfortunately, Makenzie, enrolled at Stanford University, will allow her sister to reap the hometown glory on her own. (Keep an eye out for a glimmer of gold as she passes by.)

The parade steps off Saturday, March 4, starting at 11 a.m. from Park Avenue at Short Street. Free trolleys will set out earlier than usual, at 9 a.m., to accommodate parade goers. The weather forecast is predicted to be a partly cloudy 64 degrees with a gentle breeze, so there is no excuse to forego experiencing this community event.

The honored patriot of the year is Robert W. Sternfels of the U.S. Air Force. Sternfels received a Silver Star, the nation’s third highest honor awarded for valor in combat, for his heroics as a World War II pilot. Several veteran groups will also be in the march, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars Combined Color Guard, the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band, the South Orange County Vietnam Veterans and a group called World War II Rangers Lead the Way. “Rangers Lead the Way” is the official motto of U.S. Army Rangers.

Next among the honorees is citizen of the year, Doug Miller, a 40-year Sawdust Festival artist. The prolific artist paints tiny canvases of every nook and cranny around town.

He also served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. Along with his paintings, Miller has photographed thousands of local events, acting as an unofficial documentarian and archivist for the town. Don’t be surprised to see Miller with his camera even as he rides along the parade route.

Fellow artist John Barber has been named artist of the year for his groundbreaking work in glassblowing. After traveling around Europe and learning the ancient art of glassblowing, Barber moved to Laguna in 1985, and has since created art shown in the Sawdust Festival and the Festival of Arts, most notably creating several glass works for the Montage resort.

The junior citizens of the year include high school standouts Madison Sinclair and Wyatt Ship. One of their peers, Jaren Ghetien, has also designed the cover for the parade program. Thurston eighth grader Claire Tigner will also be in the parade as winner of the essay competition, published in the program.

Event chair and treasurer Sandi Werthe pointed out some potential highlights to look for: Laguna Presbyterian Church’s float will include a birthday cake marking its 100th anniversary and Laguna Sister Cities Assoc. sets out in a 1933 Rolls Royce and a 1961 Citroen, reflecting the British and French siblings adopted by the association.

The parade will be announced by two different people at two spots along the route. Jim Rue announces from in front of the Laguna Public Library and John Kountz reads out the float descriptions in front of City Hall at the end of the parade route.

After the parade, an awards ceremony takes place at Tivoli Too! The ceremony is mostly for the various bands that participate. This year, bands expected along the parade route include Palmdale, Barstow, Temple City, La Puente, Chino Hills, Covina, and, of course Laguna’s high school and elementary bands.

To accommodate the parade route as well as pedestrian traffic in the downtown area, portions of Forest, Ocean and Park avenues, and Beach, Third, Glenneyre, Short and Legion streets will be closed to vehicular traffic before and during the parade. Free public parking will be available at the city’s Forest/Laguna Canyon and Lumberyard parking lots adjacent to City Hall. The weekly farmer’s market is cancelled due to the parade, and will resume on March 11.


  1. Laguna Beach Police Motor Escort
  2. Parade Banner – Laguna Beach Boy Scouts
  3. Theme Banner – Laguna Beach Girl Scouts
  4. American Legion/Veterans of Foreign Wars Combined Color Guard
  5. 3d Marine Aircraft Wing Band, Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar
  6. Parade President Charles Quilter
  7. Grand Marshals Aria and Makenzie Fischer
  8. Laguna Beach Water Polo Club
  9. South Orange County Vietnam Veterans

10a. Honored Patriot Major Robert W. Sternfels USAAF

A recent photo of Sternfels, who, at 97, is as sharp as ever. Photo courtesy Patriots Day Parade Committee.
A recent photo of Sternfels, who, at 97, is as sharp as ever.
Photo courtesy Patriots Day Parade Committee.

10b. Laguna Beach High School Band

  1. Laguna Beach City Council
  2. Citizen of the Year Douglas Miller
  3. Sawdust Festival
  4. Junior Citizens of the Year Madison Sinclair and Wyatt Shipp
  5. Thurston Middle School Band
  6. Laguna Beach Unified School District
  7. SchoolPower
  8. Artist of the Year John Barber
  9. Laguna College of Art & Design
  10. Laguna Beach Unified School District Elementary Band
  11. Patience Wright Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution
  12. Orange County Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution
  13. Exchange Club of Laguna Beach
  14. Laguna Woods Senior Clown Alley
  15. La Playa Center/Orange County Model A Club
  16. Anneliese Schools
  17. I.P. District
  18. Laguna Beach Police Department
  19. Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach
  20. Laguna Beach Seniors
  21. O.C.A. Arts Education
  22. Assistance League of Laguna Beach
  23. Tivoli Terrace/Tivoli Too
  24. Pageant of the Masters
  25. Oak Avenue Intermediate School Band, Temple City
  26. Capistrano Valley Model A Club
  27. Laguna Beach Girl Scouts
  28. Laguna Beach Fire Department
  29. Blue Bell Foundation for Cats
  30. Pet Rescue Center
  31. Laguna Beach Boy Scout Troop 35/Cub Scout Pack 35
  32. Bassett High School Band, La Puente
  33. Laguna Beach Little League
  34. Ebell Club Philanthropies
  35. Laguna Presbyterian Preschool
  36. Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association
  37. Laguna Beach Parents Club
  38. Art Cars
  39. I.V. Advisory Committee
  40. Laguna Beach Community Clinic
  41. Oaks Middle School Band, Ontario
  42. Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce
  43. Stu News Laguna
  44. JJ and the Habibis Laguna Beach Belly Dancers
  45. KX 93.5
  46. Susan G. Komen Orange County
  47. Laguna Tunes Community Chorus
  48. Laguna Classic Cars
  49. No Square Theatre
  50. Barstow Junior High School Band
  51. Pacific Marine Mammal Center
  52. Laguna Beach Lifeguards
  53. Honors Chorus of Top of the World/El Morro Elementary Schools
  54. Laguna Legal
  55. Laguna Laughter Club
  56. Laguna Playhouse
  57. Mission Hospital Laguna Beach
  58. Palmdale High School Band
  59. World War II Rangers Lead the Way
  60. Laguna Beach Garden Club
  61. POPcycle 2.0
  62. Laguna Sound Studio
  63. Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach
  64. Rotary Club of Laguna Beach
  65. Laguna Beach County Water District
  66. Townsend Junior High School Band, Chino Hills
  67. Ralphs
  68. Waste Management
  69. Northview High School Band, Covina
  70. Third Street Writers
  71. Laguna Board of Realtors
  72. United Studios of Self Defense Laguna Beach Dojo
  73. Mater Dei High School Band, Santa Ana
  74. All Court Tennis
  75. Sue Marie’s Facials By the Sea
  76. Spurs and Satin







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