Rain Doesn’t Dampen Parade

“People Helping People” was the theme of the 68th annual Northeast Los Angeles Parade, which headed down North Figueroa Street in Highland Park Sunday afternoon.

“We chose the theme because it reflects what our community is all about,” said Highland Park Chamber of Commerce President Yolanda Nogueira. “There are so many people who help in so many ways. Whether it’s preserving our history and our historic architecture, helping us prepare for a major distaster like an earthquake, or serving Thanksgiving dinner to people in need, there are so many people who show the spirit of the holiday season by giving of themselves. We wanted to honor them.”

Among this year’s parade honorees were Charles Fisher and Eric Warren.

Fisher was thanked for protecting our architectural heritage. A life-long area resident, he has published books on Highland Park and Garvanza and has worked tirelessly to preserve individual buildings and entire neighborhoods.

Warren serves as President of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society and was honored for his work in documenting and archiving over 100 years of Eagle Rock history. Warren has lived in Eagle Rock most of his life and is a graduate of Occidental College. He has published two books about Eagle Rock.

Roy Payan of Montecito Heights was honored for his work as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Captain. During last year’s high winds, Payan guarded downed wires for over 30 hours, even while being hit in the face by a wind-borne trash barrel and seeing his hard hat fly away. Recently, Payan served as Incident Commander on a major disaster drill in Montecito Heights that will serve as a model for preparedness for the entire city. He was joined on his parade truck by fellow CERT members Luis Acosta, Moira Gomez and Danny Duarte.

The theme, “People Helping People” was suggested by members of The Fraternal Order of Eagles. Eagles promote peace, prosperity, gladness and hope. Joining the parade line-up for the first time this year was the Eagles Ladies Auxiliary, which has lived the “People Helping People” theme by providing Thanksgiving dinner for the community and by supporting City of Hope, Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Elizabeth House and local scholarship funds.

Also joining the line-up for the first time was Highland Park’s Avenue 50 Studio, which brought out several prominent artists to remind the community of its artistic heritage and of it’s artist-rich present.

The communities of Northeast Los Angeles were represented by school and community cheer squads, drill teams, sports teams and bands. There were church groups, community organizations, scouts and elected officials.

And there were, of course, the parade traditions: Norky the Peneagle, who takes charge of the official Naughty and Nice List, was on the route, as were representatives of the United States Postal Service, who received children’s letters to deliver to Santa Claus.

And, speaking of Santa Claus, he flew in from the North Pole to close the parade, as is the Highland Park tradition, by riding atop a fire truck from local Fire Station 12.

Yes, it did rain for a little while. But when the skies opened up, young marchers donned plastic ponchos and not one spectator was seen leaving.

“Before, it was a parade,” said one attendee during the rain. “Now it’s an adventure.”

The Northeast Los Angeles Holiday Parade is an all-volunteer effort sponsored annually by the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce in association with City Council Districts 1 and 14.