A giant green pig, a leftover from the St. Patrick's Day Parade, made a cameo appearance. Ventura Mayor Richard Francis marched by with his 7-month-old twins in a baby stroller. And rival high school bands played lively ditties.
Nearly 130 floats, bands, dancers and elected officials filed through downtown Ventura Saturday in the annual Ventura County Fair Parade. An estimated 30,000 people lined Main Street for the event, one of the highlights of the fair.
A bagpipe band, outfitted in kilts, played popular Scottish tunes. Members of several car clubs showed off their souped-up vehicles, while members of MADD urged spectators not to drink and drive.
The event, organized by members of the Ventura Elks Lodge, started at about 10:30 a.m. between Catalina Street and the San Buenaventura Mission. By lunchtime, the procession was over.
Brian Winans and Cruz Samaniego, who set up folding chairs along the sidewalk near Ash Street, could not agree on the best high school band. About a half-dozen school bands from throughout the county strutted past.
"It's the Buena High band, of course," said Winans, a Buena alumnus.
"No, it's the Ventura High band," argued Samaniego, who attended Ventura High School.
"All the bands were good," offered Merilee Allen. "It's a good chance for the high school kids to practice . . . and it's free."
The parade committee handed out about 30 awards to parade participants, although no award was given to the best marching band because of state rules prohibiting band competitions during the summer.
For the past two years Samantha Gastineau, the owner of The Cheese Store in Ventura, has won for the best commercial float--a category only she had entered.
But Gastineau is no longer the parade's Big Cheese. She came in second, but she has only herself to blame.
In July Gastineau wrote a letter to the Ventura Chamber of Commerce, daring other businesses to compete against her. And a handful met her challenge.
Saturday, the Island Tropic Dancers teamed up with the Off Shore Crane Service Co. and won for best commercial float. The entry featured hula dancers.
"I feel a little disappointed," said Gastineau, whose float depicted four mice having a picnic on a boardwalk. "But I was really pleased with the overall quality of the parade."
Darlene Goble said she thought parade participants were livelier this year.
"They didn't just walk around like a bunch of deadbeats," Goble said. "They put on a good show."
"We're just a bunch of parading fools," said Bob Pallioni, assistant superintendent of the event. "It's a lot of fun."
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: B6