All the decades represented
From athletes to celebrities to the oldest, alumni paraded down Third Street to show their school pride.
By Jason Wells
September 16, 2008
Cathy Ferguson, class of 1966 and Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer rides one of the historic fire engines passing by the front of Burbank High School during its Centennial Parade Saturday. (Tammy Abbott/The Leader)
Like characters from the pages of a history book, alumni from nearly every decade of Burbank High School’s 100-year span paraded down Third Street on Saturday as part of the campus’ centennial celebration.
Prom queens of the 1940s resurrected their hand waves while perched atop classic convertibles, former cheerleaders brought back their synchronized pompom drills, and ex-sports stars — some of them in their 60s and 70s — ran down the street as they likely did when coming onto the field in their youth.
City Council members, state representatives, school board members, firefighters, celebrity alumni, marching bands, hot rods and even a horse also joined the line-up that paraded past the entrance to Burbank High School as Principal Bruce Osgood announced credentials over a loud speaker.
“Burbank High has always had great school spirit, as evidenced by all of you showing up for this,” he said.
Some alumni flew in from the East Coast to participate in the four-day centennial celebration. Others have never strayed far from the campus. But on Saturday, with groups of onlookers lining Third Street, distance and time converged on a reunion for the ages — all of them.
“I feel a little out of place,” said Josephine Bailey, class of 1925, as she sat in the back seat of a Model T Ford for the parade.
At 100 years old, she is reportedly the oldest-living Burbank High graduate, and reluctantly agreed to lead the parade of peers of different decades.
“That was the farthest thing from my mind, but it’s the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me,” Bailey said as the motorcade fired up. “It’s a lot of fun.”
She may have had the distinction of being the most senior participant Saturday, but others had their own credentials. Anson Williams, class of 1967, went on to play Warren “Potsie” Weber on “Happy Days” and then direct episodes of shows like “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place.”
Kim Fields, best known as Tootie on “The Facts of Life” in the ’80s, rode atop a classic convertible Corvette with her son and husband. She graduated Burbank High in 1986.
“I will always have ties here,” she said.
Cathy Ferguson, who at the age of 16 won two gold medals in swimming at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, joined other athletic alumni on Third Street who the night before had been inducted into the Burbank High Athletic Hall of Fame.
One of the vintage fire trucks they were riding had mechanical difficulties and had to pull over, forcing some of them to walk the final block-long stretch of the parade.
“That’s OK. They’re athletes,” Osgood joked over the loud speaker.
Juxtaposed with alumni from decades ago, the student marching bands looked especially young. Even as John Muir Middle School Marching Band played past the high school’s entrance, the physical make up the street belied time’s change.
On the other side of the street, an Office Depot stood where the middle school’s campus once resided.
After the parade’s finish, groups of alumni walked the high school’s campus to see just how much things had changed before fans gathered for a home football game later in the afternoon.
For the game, former and current high schoolers alike could be heard making plans to fetch lawn chairs and ice chests. And just like that, all it took was a ball game on home turf to reveal how some things would likely never change.
JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.