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Parade Lovers Keep It Independent : A country-Western party is held to thank 250 sponsors of Huntington Beach's privately funded July 4 celebration.

July 06, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD

Sponsors of Huntington Beach's 89th annual Fourth of July Parade were seeing stars--and stripes--at an old-fashioned, Americana-style celebration held in their honor Saturday at the Newland House and Barn in Huntington Beach.

Members of the parade's executive board and Deborah Cope, board president, staged the President's V.I.P. Western Cocktail Party and Barbecue Dinner, entertaining a crowd of 250 people with boot-stomping country music, celebrity appearances and barbecue.

The party was to thank those who had contributed at least $1,000 to the parade, fireworks show and country fair.

Red, White and Blue Jeans

"The president's dinner is usually a black-tie affair," said Deborah Cope, attending with husband Jeff. "But because the parade theme was 'A Country Fourth,' we decided to have a country-Western barbecue."

Guests, attired in blue jeans, boots and cowboy shirts, mingled in front of the historic Newland barn, which was decorated with red, white and blue swags for the party.

Gary Heximer, board vice president, stood out in his stars-and-stripes cummerbund and bow tie, which he paired with jeans, cowboy boots and "a classic Clint Eastwood duster."

Joe Regalbuto, who plays the neurotic Frank Fontana on TV's "Murphy Brown," arrived by limo with his wife, Rosemary, and three children.

"We just got back from a vacation in Greece yesterday. But we didn't want to miss this," Rosemary said.

Santa Ana country singer Kelly Rae, a parade celebrity marshal, turned up in black leather pants and a red cowboy shirt to belt out a few country songs.

"The country queen--I guess that's what they call me," said Rae, laughing. "Country music is here to stay. It's toe-tapping. It's comfortable."

Guests proved that by swinging their partners on the makeshift dance floor. Later they enjoyed a buffet stocked with tri-tip steak, barbecue chicken and chocolate cake.

"This is a place for all of the larger donors to come and meet the parade dignitaries and feel they're part of Huntington Beach and the Fourth," said Carole Ann Wall, board member. "They're not just writing a check."

American Ingenuity

The parade, billed as the largest Independence Day march west of the Mississippi, receives no city funds and is supported by private donations.

"We get donations ranging from $5 to $30,000," Cope said. "People send in whatever they can."

One reason people love the parade: It's an old-fashioned, patriotic affair complete with bands, Boy Scouts and celebrity marchers.

"This parade is a throwback," said Beverly Salata, wife of the parade's Orange County Grand Marshal Paul Salata. "It lets parents show their children how parades used to be."

Attending the parade has become a long-standing Independence Day tradition that has been passed from generation to generation, organizers said.

"When you have 300,000 people come, you know it's a super parade," said Bob Traver, parade chairman. "Next year it will be even bigger and better."

Among the parade lovers were: Peter Barton of "The Young and the Restless," Candace Cameron, who plays D.J. on "Full House," Brian Austin Green of "Beverly Hills, 90210," KTLA-TV weather reporter Mark Kriski, Cathy Corry, Tony Guerrero, Jim and Judy Ghormley, Monee Hammond, Steve and Joan Munoz, Lloyd and Karen Skaggs, Don and Dan Stanton, John Von Holle, Randy Vyduna and Norma White.

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