Scripps Ranchers have been turning out in record numbers for the community’s biggest party of the year–the SRCA 4th of July Parade and Festivities –for 32 years. What was the parade like way back when?

"It was the same," said Irene Gossett, "maybe a little smaller because there weren’t so many people living here." Irene and Mick Gossett, who moved into their Saunders Court home in 1974, remember the excitement generated by the early July 4th events.

Children decorated their bicycles with red, white, and blue accessories and dressed in costume. From the beginning, residents got together to produce dazzling floats. If a neighborhood didn’t have one of its own, the people would go work on a float somewhere else, and the kids from both areas would ride on it.

In 1979, at the age of five, Glenn Gossett dressed up in a policeman’s uniform and headed for the parade. A policeman, ready to ride the parade route, saw the tyke and hoisted him onto his motorcycle. Mom, camera in hand, recorded the moment and recently showed the photo to her son, who, to no one’s surprise, became a police officer.

As the years went by, children might have joined in the parade with their Cub Scout or Girl Scout troops. Dignitaries were out in full force then, as now. Mayor Pete Wilson rode in the Scripps Ranch parade long before he became governor of California.

"Those were the days," reflected Melisa Moriarty, a neighbor who has lived on Saunders Court since 1970. Differences of opinion during the Vietnam conflict evoked heated arguments between her and next-door neighbor Commander John Rademacher, then Executive Officer at NAS Miramar, but it didn’t cloud the friendship. On July 4th they trooped over to the Rademachers’ driveway for a potluck dinner.

Before the Old Pros arrived on the Scripps Ranch scene, a real estate agency sponsored the Run. After the Run–no races yet–it was back for the parade and then over to Hoyt Park for fun, food, and games. Tickets were sold for the barbecue lunch, and the rest of the picnic was devoted to socializing and watching the children’s activities.

In 1973, when Arnold and Joan Gass arrived, their neighbors, the Learys, told them that the 4th of July Parade passed right in front of their house on Ironwood. Furthermore, Noel Leary added that children could ride in the parade on their bicycles and tricycles.

Jonathan Gass, then 6, was happy to wear his brown, wool monk’s cassock again, recycled from his 4th of July days in San Carlos. Pumping his tricycle up Ironwood was almost too much for him, but he did make it to the park, where the family met with other revelers. Arnie struck up a conversation with a "young, green Roger Hedgecock of Del Mar," who didn’t seem to know anyone.

As the Ranch grew and the park became more crowded the Gasses decided to celebrate the 4th with their "contiguous neighbors." The parade no longer went by their house, so they hosted a breakfast in their backyard and went to Colin and Carol Gardyne’s front yard on Red Rock to watch the parade.

Arnie served as the event physician for the first two 10K races in the 1970s. The Old Pros came into being in 1982 and took over the 10K when the real estate agency left the Ranch. The Bike Rides started in 1986, under Old Pros supervision.

As the population grew so did the SRCA 4th of July Parade and Festivities. Thousands responded to the Old Pros invitation to participate in the Rides and Runs. The parade now boasts more than 60 entries, including mega-floats from Loire Valley, Vista Lago, Vons, banks, preschools, and community groups.

More and more car clubs from around San Diego showcase their fancy chassis in the SRCA Parade. Humor abounds with old favorites such as the Society for the Preservation of the Middle Class and kids in Cozy Coupes. The picnic still features children’s games, but now there is entertainment and an ice cream social. The Old Pros specially designed 4th of July T-shirts became fashion statements to be worn all through the year.

The tradition continues in present day Scripps Ranch, though there probably won’t be any more of those buffalo barbecues, or "bison-tennials," as was offered in 1976. It will be burgers and dogs and woodfired pizza from now on.

Elinor Reiss

[Ed. note: This article, first printed in a longer form on July 3, 2002 in the Sentinel, is reprinted courtesy of the Sentinel].