Burbank goes back to ’50s
This year’s Burbank on Parade will take participants and the crowd back to the days of poodle skirts.
April 18, 2008
By Chris Wiebe
Hula hoops, poodle skirts and saddle shoes will invade Olive Avenue next Saturday, as Burbank on Parade goes “Back to the ’50s Again.”
Actor, producer, director and Burbank High School alumnus Anson Williams, who played Warren ‘Potsie’ Weber on the hit television show “Happy Days,” will be the grand marshal of the parade, which is in its 27th year.
“We were looking for somebody that represented the ’50s,” said Bruce Hoenig, a parade organizer. “He said he’d love to be grand marshal of this year’s Burbank on Parade because it fit with ‘Happy Days’ and what they represent.”
The event, which begins at 11 a.m., will feature early rock ’n’ roll and bebop jazz, in addition to the customary floats and musical grounds, said Sandy Dennis, president of Burbank on Parade.
“The kids and the parents are going to have a ball,” she said. “We’re going to have more ’50s music going up and down that parade route than you can imagine.”
The Olive Avenue procession will also feature local dignitaries like City Council members and executives, as well as state and federal legislators like Rep. Adam Schiff and Assemblyman Paul Krekorian.
And among the groups that will appear on the parade route is a band from Hempdale High School in Pennsylvania, which chose Burbank on Parade as a location this year for their annual band trip, Hoenig said.
“It’s an honor for us that people as far as back east know about Burbank on Parade,” he said.
During parade preparations, veteran organizers are bringing in younger volunteers who are learning what it takes to pull off the event, said Dennis, who has been involved in the parade since its inception.
“After 27 years, some of us are getting worn out,” she said. “Some of the people aren’t running up and down the streets as well anymore.”
New volunteers are learning the nuts and bolts of parade management, handling maps, parking and feeding floats and vehicles into the parade route, Dennis said.
The route is slated to run on Olive Avenue between Lincoln and Lomita streets, Hoenig said.
Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. there will be a craft fair with concessions and music held at George Izay Park, he added.
Last year’s parade, titled “Saluting those who serve,” paid tribute to patriotism and the armed forces, garnering strong support from local military veterans, who joined in the effort.
After a hiatus in 2005, the parade was reprised to great acclaim in 2006, attracting more than 2,000 participants, an attendance level that exceeded the years preceding 2005.
And volunteers and residents are abuzz in anticipation of this year’s event, Dennis said.
“We’re going to see how many people can remember how to hula hoop,” Dennis said. “I’ll be interested to see how many kids are dressed up who actually know what the ’50s was.”
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EDITORIAL: Marching to a positive beat
Get ready to rock around the clock — or at least a few blocks.
Whether you’re looking for some good exercise, or to just get to know your community a little better, you’ll have that chance on April 26 along a nearly 1-mile stretch of Olive Avenue.
The annual Burbank on Parade with a ’50s theme will make its way along Olive, showcasing everyone and everything from local Scout troops and classic cars to marching bands and equestrian units, all between Lomita and Lincoln streets.
The parade will take a decidedly retro feel as the parade’s theme is “Back to the ’50s Again.”
And with “Potsie” from “Happy Days” leading the parade, how can you not think back to the days when poodle skirts and hula hoops were all the rage.
That’s right, Burbank High School graduate Anson Williams, best known for his role as Richie Cunningham’s friend and sidekick, will be the grand marshal.
The parade itself is inspired by those days, marching through much of the 1950s as part of the Burbank Junior Chamber of Commerce’s weeklong May Festival of dances, a carnival, baking contests and a pageant.
In the process, it became a tradition as people lined the streets to celebrate this city.
The tradition originally lasted about 12 years, stopping in 1957. But it created some great memories.
Those memories drove some Burbank residents to revive it in 1981.
The parade also took a hiatus in 2005 when waning community interest, scheduling conflicts and strained preparations forced organizers to cancel.
But in 2006, it was back and better than ever.
Parade organizers’ commitment is inspiring, and is a good reminder that even at a time when the popularity of parades is lagging in other cities, Burbank has managed to keep a vital link to its past.
In the process, this city is really celebrating its future. Because much of what we’ll see on parade day is the young. In fact, many of this parade’s organizers are young people, taking the torch from those who with so much devotion maintained the tradition of the parade.
Burbank is a lucky city to be able to march toward the future with such community spirit.