By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer
From waterworks to fireworks, Pacific Palisades celebrated well on Independence Day, anchored by the annual Palisades Parade and an evening concert lineup at the baseball field at Palisades Charter High School.
This year, the parade celebrated seven decades with the theme “70 Years of Cheers!”
Like clockwork, as they have been doing for 30 years, members of Carey Peck Skydiving Team—led by Tom Falzone (Pali High Class of ’79)—touched down near the big “X” on the ground at Sunset Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue to signal the big launch of the parade.
Unlike last year’s gray day, the sunshine worked in harmony with the splashy opening. However, the parachutists found the touchdown windier than in previous years.
“The winds were a bit squirrelly,” skydiver Mary Tortomasi told the Palisadian-Post. “You have to get upwinded.”
Once the skydiving trio—which also included Rich Piccirilli—landed, the parade launched up Via De La Paz and curled onto Sunset Boulevard, where it strutted across the heart of The Village before going south on Drummond Street and wrapping around Toyopa Street toward its conclusion.
As is tradition, the parade featured a succession of visual treats, both new and familiar, including floats with the Patriotic Pups, Theatre Palisades, Palisades P.R.I.D.E. and Caruso.
Parade highlights included an army’s worth of Colonial American Minutemen, the colorful Lan Nartthasin Thai Dance Group LA, as well as myriad marching bands from high school and middle school from communities such as Norwalk and Downey.
From the sidelines, neighbors, including Dr. Simon Simonian, esteemed medical scientist who helped eradicate smallpox, and wife Arpi, took in the parade.
“I like the whole atmosphere,” Simon said.
“I love the community feeling,” Arpi added. “You don’t see this anywhere, people preparing for the parade three days ahead of time.”
In the grandstand, talent manager Larry Hummel of Beverly Hills brought his wife and 9-year-old son to see their first Palisades parade, during which the current honorary co-mayors made quite the impression.
“What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than watching Billy Crystal dressed as George Washington crossing Sunset Boulevard?” Hummel said.
Senator Ben Allen, who represents Pacific Palisades, brought his parents to the VIP luncheon, held, as always, at the Community United Methodist Church of Pacific Palisades
“It’s beautiful here,” Allen said. “There’s a wonderful sense of community. It’s part of LA but it has a great [small-town feel] with strong traditions.”
Indeed, parade donor Don de Brier confirmed that at the VIP lunch, where he added that he loves the July 4th holiday for “the parade and the fun day in the community.”
“It honors the military, the neighbors,” continued de Brier, who has financially supported the parade for a decade now.
Later that evening, as Palisades Uplifters performed on the main stage at the Pali High baseball stadium, Crystal, in a black sweater and matching beret, told the Post that he hopes the example set by him and wife/Honorary Co-Mayor Janice Goldfinger takes off.
“Everybody should do that,” he said of their custom float. “The parade should grow and grow each year with homemade floats.”