With all of the requisite knocking on wood, it appears that, after two years of all-virtual everything and cancelled major, in-person events, everything seems to be breaking right for a blockbuster Memorial Day weekend, including a return of the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade.
“The Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade will be ‘LIVE’ on May 30th this year,” Larry “the Hat” Lautzker, one of the parade’s organizers. “After two years of great (check out the website) virtual parades, Mill Valley’s biggest annual event is back!”
The parade kicks off with the special Veterans Ceremony, which includes the student K-8 essay contest, “What does Memorial Day mean to me?” starting 9:45 at Lytton Square followed by the parade at 10:30.
The I Love a Parade committee, Lautzker, Clifford Waldeck and Paul Moe are expanding the scope of this year’s event to include the Ukraine, for all those who have “lost their lives fighting for our freedom” in conflicts worldwide. A portion of this year’s parade registration and sponsorship proceeds will go to Ukraine Relief. “These men and woman have given their lives so the world can be a safer place!” Lautzker says.
Organizers are bringing back the glory days of Mill Valley parades, Color Guard and your dogs marching, with a trophy for best dog. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, bikes, skateboards, Redwoods Drum Corps, Veterans float, lots of kids and more. “A heads up to the Bad Fashion offenders in our community, The Famous4 Fashion Police will be out in force, protecting our children from being exposed to and the damage caused by reckless coordination, wardrobe expired, bad banana khaki karma, excessive accessorizing and other violations that harm our kids ideas of fashion understanding and confidence,” Lautzker says.
All your favorite organizations will be there with a bunch of new entries, neighborhood friends and families creating their one of a kind floats and participation.
Many more details for the weekend are on the way in the coming weeks, but we’ve confirmed that the four-day Kiddo! Carnival is also set to return, kicking into high gear on May 27 and running through the evening of May 30. Memorial Day itself begins with the return of the Mill Valley Volunteer Firefighters’ Association’s Pancake Breakfast from 7-11am, followed by a ceremony at 9:30am at Lytton Square, the tree-laden island that splits the road between Miller and Corte Madera avenues into two and is named for Lytton Barber, Mill Valley’s first WWI casualty.
The Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade was first produced in 1980. It was organized by Paul Moe of Brocket Construction, who still handles staging for the parade’s current iteration. The “I Love a Parade Committee” was formed in 1992 by Joe Leis, followed by local architect Billy Budd and assisted by Lautzker, who has been the head of the committee since 2002.
Lautzker says 1992 was the first year of dogs marching with more than 200 dogs of all sizes and breeds. “The Grand Marshall that first year was Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s band, Celebrity Judges included Jerry Garcia, Mimi Farina and Joel Bartlett,” he says. “Rock Stars on Harley’s with portable amps playing our national anthem. All of this has continued and the parade has grown in size and public participation.”
Now there are more than 60 different entries in the parade each year and trophies are awarded for Best Car, Best Float, Best Dog, Best Music, Best Novelty, Best Business, Best Community Spirit and Best Overall.