One of the largest crowds in many years assembled for the 87th annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 26.
Organized by the Laguna Beach American Legion Post and led by Adjutant Richard Moore, the program included solemn rituals, patriotic flourishes and a touch of hometown culture.
Post Commander Bob McIntosh, VFW Commander Arnie Silverman and Council member Kelly Bold welcomed the audience cascading towards Monument Point in Heisler Park. They witnessed a flag presentation by the police color guard, Rosie Morreale’s singing of the national anthem and a pledge of allegiance led by the Boy Scout troop 35.
Keynote speaker Mimi Walters, a Republican member of the state Senate and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, paid tribute to military personnel who died in service to the nation. Walters is running for an open seat vacated by John Campbell of Irvine in a district that excludes Laguna Beach.
Representatives of various organizations and individuals made floral presentations honoring their dead as part of the program.
Taps was played by local Eagle Scout and trumpeter Chad Kanner.
The program closed out with Legionnaire Dave Connell calling on those in attendance to protect the nation’s freedoms by voting. California voters go to the polls on Tuesday, June 3.
This year may have set a new beach attendance record for Memorial Day weekend, with an estimated 45,000 people on local beaches, according to lifeguards.
July 4 crowds are typically even larger, when 50 to 60,000 people flock to the sand and stay for fireworks, said marine safety Capt. Tom Trager. “Some locals had said they have never seen their local beach so crowded,” he said. “Some favorite coves in town do not have all their sand back from winter and that intensified crowding on many beaches.”
Lifeguards made 17 rescues over the three days, most of which came Saturday when the surf was two to four feet, Trager said. By Monday, an inconsistent southwest swell had dropped off.
Medical aids were mostly minor in nature, Trager said.
A record-breaking crowd also turned out in Heisler Park for the Exchange Club’s pancake breakfast, which raised $4,000, organizer Sande St. John said.
She envisioned serving no more than 600 people, but firefighters and police flipped cakes and sausages for 800, said St. John, helped by donations from the White House, Las Brisas, and Orange Inn restaurants, Capri Hotel, and water supplier Ken Kenworthy and Pin Construction.