Just for the record, this past 4-day weekend has turned out to be a much more vigorous adventure than any other Independence Day holiday I have ever experienced in the past.
Starting off in the darkness of early morning on Thursday the 4th, I was getting ready to load the truck with my part of the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center Parade Float equipment. While checking my list for the umpteenth time, I realized if I left something important home, or miscalculated how the sound system or other electrical equipment was going to work, there would be no way to recover. The float plans were a lot more complex this year, as we had added a pneumatic system to keep our big yellow duck properly inflated, and incorporated the use of a 110 volt inverter to keep the bubbles blowing, along with a whole new set of banners, flags and props. But fortunately, the parade team’s planning paid off. When we arrived at our parade staging location, we had everything needed to decorate our float and all the props were working as designed.
If you were a spectator on the parade route, and were able to see and hear us come by, I hope you noticed how we showed our support for the United Sates Constitution’s 1st Amendment granting freedom of the press, and the 100th anniversary of Santa Clarita’s Signal Newspaper, when we announced the inauguration of the “Dixon Daily News.” In addition, to be in fashion for the occasion, the Dixon Float Decoration Team had our lovely mascot, “Dorothy Dixon Duck,” wearing a custom-made designer shower cap, while taking a bubble bath and reading the latest copy of our paper. But, to be sure those watching did not miss the significance, or importance, of the Dixon Daily News, our CEO Philip Solomon headed up a crew of four bicycle riding newspaper delivery boys and girls, handing out copies which included “Duck Adoption Papers” announcing the “Dixon Duck Dash” to be held on October 12th at Bridgeport Park. Not only will this event be a free fun day for the entire family, if you adopt a duck, or ducks, you could be one of the Dixon Duck Dash’s grand prize recipients and win some big bucks (dollars that is).
Even with all we had to do, we did not forget my seven pound, white, long haired, floppy eared, tail wagging, family member named Baby, who turned 98 in dog years on the 4th. This year, she rode in the center of the float, amazed as always, about all the people gathered to celebrate with her. Yet, what I found most intriguing was our own Mayor, Marsha McLean. As it turned out, the Mayor occupied the parade spot right behind our Samuel Dixon Family Health Center float. What made our Mayor stand out above the other elected officials, was while most of them remained in a safe zone of riding in an automobile, Mayor Marsha showed her daredevil spirit by climbing on the back of a shiny Harley-Davidson trike, to travel the parade route. It was breathtaking to watch as the rider, and our Mayor, paused to do some doughnuts in an intersection. Way to go, Mayor Marsha!
Our float had a great time, but their activities represented just the first half of the day. After taking down the parade float decorations, returning the truck to the rental yard and taking everything back to where it would be stored for next year, there was the question of what to do next. In the morning, American Legion riders were passing out flyers for lunch and afternoon activities at their Newhall Legion Post. Independence Day celebrations were also scheduled at Mint Canyon Moose, the Santa Clarita Elks, and I’ll bet there was a large gathering at the local VFW. It makes me proud to live in this very patriotic city named Santa Clarita.
This year, lunch time brought more than just food on my plate when I was asked if I had felt the earthquake. Since I was riding on a parade float, the earthquake being centered in Ridgecrest and we were buffered by being on the other side of the San Andreas fault, I did not even know the quake had taken place. Finding out later that Ridgecrest was “rocking and rolling” to a 7.1 shaker, my heart went out to all the local residents. I remember the 6.5 1971 Sylmar quake causing my wife and I to shovel a trash barrel full of broken glass out of our kitchen, and the 6.7 1994 Northridge shaker rupturing a natural gas main line two blocks down from my house. When we finally were able to travel to work, we saw first-hand all the apartment buildings on Lassen which collapsed on to their lower level parking areas, plus my wife’s place of employment on Devonshire Boulevard where the 3rd floor became the 2nd floor. Those level 6.5 and 6.7 quakes were bad enough, but a 7.1 had to be a lot worse. Plus, now all the locals must live with the aftershocks, find the resources to repair the damage and calm their nerves. I realize we have been lucky to not have experienced a local major earthquake for over 20 years. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our luck holds out.
All that was happening, and the holiday was not half over. Last week I wrote about a tragic event which took place on Friday, June 21, 2019. The Jarheads MC, a group of active duty or honorably discharged Marines, FMF Corpsman, and family members, in New Hampshire, were on their way to a charity fund raiser at a local American Legion Post, when a pickup truck towing a car trailer, swerved onto the wrong side of the road directly into the group of motorcycle riders. Seven members of the group were killed and several more were severely injured. It is still very troubling for me to think about men and women who had volunteered to put their life on the line to defend our country, ending up in heaven as a result of a senseless violent incident, right here at home. It makes me even more incensed finding out the perpetrator, “should have had his commercial driver’s license suspended, but Massachusetts did not properly log an impaired driving incident in Connecticut from the previous month”. In addition, “Massachusetts officials announced that Registry of Motor Vehicle workers stopped processing out-of-state violations beginning in March 2018, and 53 bins of unopened mail with thousands of notices were discovered at a records room at the Quincy office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The Bay State’s RMV has issued more than 1,100 suspensions to 876 drivers as it works through a backlog of out-of-state driver’s license violations that sat unchecked for more than a year.” Now, I’m sure the elected officials, in those states, will hold press conferences to cry out how unacceptable the situation was. But from my standpoint, this type of dereliction of duty is becoming all too common. We need to start putting public servants in office whose first priority is protecting the public, instead of those who seem to spend their time verifying their retirement account is fully funded.
When Joe Lozano and I found out that memorial rides and fundraisers were being set up across the country on July 6th to help the victims and families of the New Hampshire tragedy, we decided Santa Clarita should take action as well. With only 10 days lead time, we knew we needed to try something new. So, we opted for a memorial ride, with no ride fee charged, no standard donations collected or prizes awarded. This event would be held solely to raise awareness and would only accept voluntary contributions. I made up a flyer, Joe made some phone calls, and the “Sic Psycles” Road Captain joined in by putting a 100-mile route together. The ride would take the group from the Santa Clarita Elks Parking Lot to the Rock Inn, from there to El Pescador in Filmore and finally to the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. It was a gamble, and with so little time to advertise, we had no idea how many individuals would participate, but when we called the restaurants and explained what we were doing, all three welcomed the group. So, on Saturday July 6, at 10:30am, motorcycle riders and their passengers left the Elks parking lot for what was a great ride with a great purpose.
I would like to especially thank several of our friends, who were already scheduled to be out of town on that day, and contributed before the ride, while others gave from their heart the day of the event. Even on such short notice, we are sending over $600 to help the families and victims. God bless all of you who took part in this event. Yet, if you missed the ride, remember it is not too late to help those in need, and if you choose to do so, please give me a call at 661-713-9344, or contact “Jarheads MC” directly at JarheadsMCDonations@gmail.com. Any amount you choose to donate will help.