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SIMI VALLEY : Grand Marshal Marching to His 25th Year

September 16, 1993|JAMES MAIELLA JR.

When Simi Valley resident Bill Edwards served as the master of ceremonies of his first Simi Valley Days Parade, man hadn't walked on the moon and the New York Mets had yet to pull off their 1969 miracle.

"I never thought about it before. I never thought how many years it's been," Edwards said Wednesday. "But two years ago, some friends researched it back and said it was the 23rd and I said, 'No, I can't believe that.' "

Saturday, Edwards will emcee his 25th consecutive parade and serve as its grand marshal.

"I've been called the voice of Simi Valley, because I'm always yakking," said Edwards, 64. "My mouth is always going somewhere, and I haven't gotten to the point in my life yet where I've pulled back and said, 'OK, that's enough, I can't do it anymore.' "

Edwards moved from Burbank to Simi Valley with his wife and three children in 1965, drawn by the inexpensive housing and the community atmosphere.

"Where else could you get a four-bedroom house with two baths, a living room, fireplace, dining room, kitchen with a breakfast area and a large family room for $19,450," he said.

Quickly involved in the community and its service organizations, Edwards became known for his ability to emcee beauty pageants and other special events and in 1968 was asked to announce the parade during the city's annual celebration--then run by the Simi Valley Jaycees and called Pioneer Days.

And the years went on and on, Edwards said, one parade after another.

"I've thought about it--how did I do it consecutively that long?" he said. "It was just planning. There was never anything that got in the way enough to keep me from doing it."

The parade route and the time of year of the celebration has changed over the years, he said. Saturday's parade will run along Los Angeles Avenue from Erringer Road to Madera Road and start at 9 a.m.

Edwards, who runs a Simi Valley acting studio for children, announced his first parade when his daughter, Mary Beth, was just 4 years old. This year, her 4-year-old son, David, will ride with him on his way to the reviewing stand.

"There have been a lot of fun times," Edwards said, recalling the time when the parade was rained out in 1978, the only time that happened.

"The sky was black, but everybody kept their fingers crossed that it wouldn't rain, and then at 10 o'clock just as the parade was starting the sky just opened up and it was a deluge," he said. "Everybody kept yelling, 'Bill, don't touch the microphone.' "

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