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'Proud to be an American' at La Cañada's Fiesta Days

Memorial Day celebration goes from somber to boisterous.

May 29, 2013|By Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com
  • Community members participate in the Crescenta-Canada Family YMCA 1-mile family fun run, 10k run, 5k run and 5k walk at Descanso Gardens during the La Canada Fiesta Days on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013 in La Canada, Calif.
Community members participate in the Crescenta-Canada… (Photo by Libby Cline )

After a ceremony honoring veterans in La Cañada Flintridge on Monday, Ron Dietel reflected on those he has lost.

His mother, father and uncle all served in World War II. His uncle died during the war and his parents have since passed away. Dietel, himself an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1974-83, sees Memorial Day as a somber holiday.

PHOTOS: Fiesta Days fireworks at Memorial Park  

"It means a lot to me," said the 61-year-old. "It's wonderful to see the community spirit that comes together for Memorial Day."

In the shade under the gazebo in Memorial Park, Dietel, a former member of the La Cañada school board, joined other local veterans who were honored for their service along with fallen soldiers. The annual ceremony was followed by a boisterous, colorful parade down Foothill Boulevard, part of the weekend-long celebration known as Fiesta Days.

The weekend started with a casino-themed night at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge and included activities that longtime residents have come to see as beloved traditions: a breakfast with French toast and local strawberries, a movie screening in the park, a fireworks show and a Memorial Day run through the foothills.

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PHOTOS: Fiesta Days casino night  

The run, hosted by the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, drew its usual crowd of families and solo runners from La Cañada, La Crescenta, Pasadena and neighboring communities. And it's not unusual for participants to run or walk straight to the next event after crossing the finish line at Descanso Gardens.

PHOTOS: Crescenta-Cañada YMCA's Fiesta Run 

After finishing a run with two of his children Monday, Alex Seropian walked back to his home before 9 a.m. holding two bananas. After he made a smoothie, he said, he planned to march with the Cub Scouts in the parade.

"Everybody in town comes out," said the 43-year-old. "It's a lot of fun."

Helicopters flying low over Foothill Boulevard marked the start of the parade, a change from the event's early years, said Penny Baisley, 72.

PHOTOS: Fiesta Days community breakfast and car show at Memorial Park  

The La Cañada resident remembers when bombers flew over the city before the Fiesta Days parade and a tank's tracks tore up the road.

"We were sitting on the curb as we could feel the vibration," she said.

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