For 38 years, the self-proclaimed Biggest Little Parade in Northern California has happily taken over beautiful downtown Penngrove for the first weekend in July.
This year is the big 3-9 for the parade, and locals and visitors alike can’t wait to get the annual good times rolling.
Kim Hanson, owner of Penngrove’s friendly JavAmore Café, is the point person for this year’s event. True to tradition, Parade No. 39 will have no entry fees and no theme. And, if you’re reading this and want to take part, they’d love to have you.
“It’s a blast,” Hanson said. “It’s such a down-home event.”
The 2014 parade weekend begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 5 at Rancho Adobe fire station, as the firefighters put down their hoses and pick up their spatulas for a morning of serious pancake panache. The breakfast, with proceeds benefiting the fire district, runs until 11 a.m. at the station, at the corner of Main Street and Old Redwood Highway. On the menu are flapjacks, bacon and eggs, fruit and juice. Cost is $5-$7.
Then, at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 6, is the parade. “It’s a come-as-you-are event,” Hanson said. “Because there’s no theme, people can do what they want. One year some lady had an easy chair on wheels.”
Since Penngrove is a big farming community, attendees can expect the usual tractor contingent to take part.
Penngrove is also a small, friendly town. Many families have been friends for generations, Hanson said. “They may not have seen each other for awhile, but here it’s time to reconnect and reminisce.”
Like many Penngroveans, Hanson is a member of the town’s Social Firemen, which puts on the parade each year. Proceeds benefit the town’s park, clubhouse and 4H.
This year’s marshal is Ron Goodlund, a fellow Social Fireman, she said. “He’ll be riding on the Indiana, the 1930s fire truck.”
Hanson also mentioned the Baker boys, now in their early teens. She doesn’t know their first names, but she knows their Penngrove spirit is strong. “Every year they come from New Jersey with their parents specifically for the parade.”
This is her sixth year working on the parade and she remembers when they were “two little boys in a red wagon. Now they’re pulling the wagon and passing out candy. Their parents took part in the parade, and they felt it was a tradition that should be maintained.”
After the parade, which runs about an hour, everyone adjourns to Penngrove Park and the big pit barbecue. It too is a tradition: beef is seasoned, wrapped in newspaper then buried. “The guys show up at midnight to feed the fire and stay all night. It’s a lot of work, but they love it.”
There’s an apple pie contest , and the 4Hers are on hand, staffing a dessert stand. Earlier, Hanson said, they help beautify the park for the event by planting flowers.
The barbecue runs from noon-4 p.m. The afternoon also includes game for kids, a super slide, raffle and music by Charley Baker.
After that, it’s time to wrap it up, go on home with another year of fun, laughter, good memories and the pleasant knowledge that, next year, the happy time will return.
For more information, or to enter the parade, call JavAmore at 794-1516 or stop by. The café’s at 10101 Main St.