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Pair to Play Special Role in Oxnard's Centennial Parade

May 31, 2003|Sandra Murillo | Times Staff Writer

Age has erased much of her memory, but Ramona Urango, at 107, still remembers bits and pieces of life in small-town Oxnard. Like riding the trolley on A Street downtown. Visiting the Asahi market on Oxnard Boulevard. And working on a ranch where she met her husband.

To help the city celebrate its 100th anniversary, Urango and Oxnard resident Mason Covarrubias, 93, were recruited as grand marshals for today's centennial parade.

"We're trying to give people a sense of 100 years of Oxnard history," said parade organizer Ruth Ballin. "Our thought was rather than have a celebrity grand marshal, we'd honor our own."

The parade, which begins at 10 a.m. in downtown Oxnard, will celebrate the city's agrarian past as well as its cultural history and present-day triumphs, Ballin said.

About 20 floats representing each decade in the city's history will make their way down A and C streets, along with marching bands, mariachi groups, Chinese lion dancers and an Elvis impersonator.

As for Urango and Covarrubias, they will ride in a 1947 Lincoln Continental cabriolet, Ballin said. Original plans to put them in a turn-of-the-century stagecoach were scratched when organizers realized stagecoaches weren't handicapped-accessible.

The granddaughter of Chumash Indians and Spanish soldiers, Urango was born in 1895 in a part of north Oxnard then known as New Jerusalem. The town was made up of mostly farms.

Covarrubias' father owned a saddle and harness shop near downtown, and the family lived in a large house with a big backyard on Wooley Road. Hundreds of townspeople would show up at the house for his yearly autumn barbecues, recalled Covarrubias' son, Chuck.

"It was a very small place," Covarrubias said in his current home on a fairway of the River Ridge Golf Course. "I knew just about everybody in town."

Covarrubias went off to World War II and returned to his hometown, where he raised his family. Once, when a job offer came his way, he considered leaving for Los Angeles.

"I went down there for two weeks," he said. "I found out I had to travel all across town to visit people. I didn't take the job."

He retired from a local frozen food company in 1972.

During much of her life in Oxnard, Urango married, raised 10 children and worked odd jobs.

Although Oxnard is now a big city, it's still a place where old-time traditions thrive, and where hard-working people like Urango and Covarrubias still call home, said Nao Takasugi, a former mayor and assemblyman.

"It's 100 years old, but I think much of that same quality of friendliness and trust ... still exist here," he said.

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