Like many in the pocket-protector crowd, Bill Skoug appreciates big water filters.
The Huntington Beach engineer even keeps a scrapbook with snapshots of water filtration projects he has worked on.
But never in his wildest dreams did he imagine one of his company's water filters would be honored with a parade.
And yet there he was, waving at a dozen spectators from his black Nissan sports coupe, as two high school bands--playing "How the West Was Won"--escorted his 30-ton water filters to Lake Casitas.
"I'm a little surprised," Skoug said. "Never has a town embraced our equipment so wholeheartedly."
When a $9-million filtration plant is completed next June, 60,000 residents in the Ojai Valley and parts of Ventura will get filtered tap water delivered to their homes for the first time. At present, tap water from the lake is chlorinated to eradicate harmful bacteria.
Wednesday's delivery of two 42-foot-long water filters is just the beginning. Six more will make their way down Casitas Vista Road in coming weeks from Downey.
So why not a parade?
"We're pretty proud," said John Johnson, manager of Casitas Municipal Water District. "This is going to be a really special filtration plant."
The Ventura High School band, decked out in snazzy gold-and-black uniforms and plumed hats, led the parade up the quiet dead-end road, followed by the Nordhoff Rangers in white-and-blue uniforms with golden braids.
The tubas, piccolos and snare drums, led by baton-twirling drum majors, startled a family of squirrels but entertained a handful of spectators sitting on lawn chairs and lawn mowers in their driveways.
"We needed some entertainment around here," said Margy DuBois, who has lived on Casitas Vista Road for 30 years. "Never seen anything like it."
Neighbor Rita Reese also enjoyed the pomp but still doesn't see a need for the new plant.
"The water tastes fine the way it is," she said.
Bringing up the rear were the dignitaries: a dozen contractors, engineers and water district employees driving pickup trucks. Behind them were two oversized-load pilot cars with yellow flashing lights.
And then the \o7 piece de resistance\f7 --two 18-wheelers, occasionally swerving to avoid branches and power lines, carrying the 12-foot-diameter, sausage-shaped water filters.
Heavy-load hauler Fred Trujillo was modest about his role in the spectacle.
"These water filters aren't the heaviest thing I ever hauled," the chain-smoking Trujillo said, trading war stories with another driver.
"I once hauled a 1,220,000-pound oil-refinery column--the heaviest thing ever driven over a bridge in California. Yep, looked like a sub out of water."
The parade ended in a dusty, empty field near the future filtration plant, where sweaty band members downed brownies and discussed the odd dedication.
"I didn't know you could march for a water filter," Ventura freshman Marietta Sanford said. "It's pretty unusual."
Said Nordhoff senior Kristy Wardell, "Heck, I'd play for anything, even a giant pickle. I just like to march."