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City celebrates Fiesta Days

Memorial Day Weekend festival balances solemn remembrance with loads of lighthearted family fun.

June 01, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com
  • Chipper, the California Highway Patrol mascot, waves at the crowds during the Fiesta Days Memorial Day Parade on Foothill Blvd. in La Canada Flintridge on Monday, May 30, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Chipper, the California Highway Patrol mascot, waves…

Applauding both community and country, thousands gathered in La Cañada Flintridge over Memorial Day weekend to paint the town red, white and blue during its 38th annual Fiesta Days celebration.

Four days of family-friendly events organized by La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce under the theme “LCF: The American Dream” — a first-annual city bridge tournament on Friday, a vintage car show on Saturday and a spectacular Sunday night fireworks display — were capped off Monday by a solemn service to honor fallen veterans and the traditionally exuberant Fiesta Days Parade along Foothill Boulevard between Cornishon and Gould avenues.

“It all shows how lucky we are to live here in La Cañada Flintridge. I feel blessed every day,” said City Councilwoman Laura Olhasso, who served as the parade’s grand marshal.

Parade dignitaries also included hometown 2011 Rose Queen Evanne Friedmann, the Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court, state Sen. Carol Liu and Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (both former City Council members), as well as L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Sheriff Lee Baca and Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

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But the true stars of the weekend were military veterans — those who sacrificed their lives in defense of the country and others who lived to never forget fighting alongside them.

Emceed by Eagle Scout and La Canada High School senior Raymond Ma, the pre-parade ceremony at Memorial Park called special attention to honoring World War II veterans, a handful of whom took to the gazebo for a standing ovation.

Soaking in the applause, John Lyans, 88, a lifelong La Cañada Flintridge resident who served as a Navy lieutenant in the Pacific theater, told the crowd, “I thought of all the guys in my air group who didn’t make it. We lost quite a few.”

Chamber of Commerce President Pat Anderson said organizers worked hard to preserve the meaning of Memorial Day among the many festive all-ages events that ran throughout the weekend — a sentiment not lost on parade participants.

“Memorial Day is a celebration and a solemn day as well,” said Baca, a co-grand marshal of last year’s parade. “Fiesta Days is a way of bringing people together to honor those who have given their lives in protecting our nation … [and] a time to bring families to a common place to acknowledge our love for our country, family and human beings.”

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