The Lakewood Fourth of July parade won’t be marching through the neighborhood this year because of the coronavirus, so take a look back at better days and find out how this neighborhood tradition got its start.
The parade started in 1962 when two children rode their bikes on the sidewalks in the 7300 block of Lakewood Boulevard. From there, it grew into a parade and block party that included the 7200 block of Lakewood Boulevard.
As the parade expanded to other parts of the neighborhood, the new starting point became Cambria and Lakewood boulevards. It finished at the corner of Westlake Avenue and Copperfield Lane, where an awards and refreshment area was set up in a vacant lot.
The honorary “mayor of Lakewood” title started in the 1960s and was given to Jim Young, a longtime resident who spearheaded ideas for the parade. In 1984, he passed the title to Bill Duryee, who planned with Jim Hicks and Bob Brimer how to get new families with children involved in the parade. Al See became “mayor” in 2003.
In 1983, a house was built on parade grounds — where the refreshments were served — and the end of the route was changed to the Tokalon tennis courts. Four years later, organizers assembled a tent on parade grounds in conjunction with the theme “Under the Big Top.” The shade was so welcome that a tent has been set up every year since. The only exception was in 1995, when a cool spell of 92 degrees fell on the Fourth.
In the first few years, neighbors provided electricity by using long extension cords until the planning committee got a generator.
The Fourth of July parade has grown and changed over the years, but one thing remains the same. It’s paid for through donation from neighbors, neighborhood associations and local businesses. In the mid-1990s, the parade budget was $1,500 and has grown to about $5,000 today.
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