A Great 4th of July!

It is with great pride and joy that my wife, Gaye, and I participated again in our 34th 4th of July Parade and Celebration here in our home–Scripps Ranch. The 4th of July is a very special day for our nation and its people as we stop in our busy lives and say thank you for liberty and freedom in the greatest country on earth–America. This becomes ever more poignant and worthwhile as we wrestle with financial and other problems yet always with a good and positive attitude in line with our historical past and our needed actions in the future.

The parade this year was very special, and happy to say we had perhaps the biggest parade crowd we have had to date for the parade and ice cream social. Perhaps that the 4th was on a Sunday worked out well.

I had hoped we would see more neighborhood float entries from our traditional neighborhoods as in the past, as this was our 40th anniversary parade. However, as some of our communities mature and the children leave home, some of the motives for the old ways have disappeared, including working on floats.

We have, however, more and larger youth groups like Scouts and, of course, lots of athletic activities all centered around the family and pride in Scripps Ranch, and its family traditions remain alive. The most important thing was everyone had a wonderful Scripps Ranch happy time and no accidents or incidents.

We thank the residents who make this day so special, the members of the SRCA 4th of July Committee who worked for months, the men and women members of the Old Pros and the Scripps Ranch Women’s Athletic Club working all day Saturday and then up at the crack of dawn to help run the terrific 10K Run and others. Collectively these residents carry on the fine tradition of “Country Living” in Scripps Ranch and what continues to make it so special for all. We deserve the title of “The Finest Family Community in San Diego.”

4th of July Parade History

After our parade narration several residents asked that I put a short history of the parade in the Newsletter. They found it very interesting but had missed parts of it and wanted to read it as a part of our 40th anniversary look back at Scripps Ranch history. So here goes, with some memory trails.

The first 4th of July Parades organized by residents were quite simple affairs, with residents decorating bikes and cars and just ending in Hoyt Park. In l976 we celebrated our country’s 200th birthday with a well-planned event that had several special doings, including a catered buffalo lunch in a special Hoyt Park tent, a horse-drawn wagon, and Wells Fargo stagecoach.

One of the special things was all the beer you could drink for one dollar. Of course, that quickly went the way of such good things when the city demanded insurance coverage. Now the Old Pros have to fence in their 10K Run controlled beer serving area to prevent minors from enjoying the “brews” and, of course, not violating their insurance coverage.

A special and important part of all these early parades was when we asked the United States Marine Corps detachment in then-Naval Air Station and now Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar to provide a Color Guard to lead off the parade. This has been done for each year since.

We also for years had a special vehicle lead off the parades–an old-fashioned steam calliope from the old circus days restored by the Hazard family and driven and played by Bill Herr and his daughter. The clear sweet sound of the old-fashioned steam calliope wafting over our parade was a treat each 4th. We no longer have either the steam calliope or the horse-drawn entries but the USMC Color Guard still starts our parade.

We have had for the past several years a wonderful public address system provided by Andy Nicholas and company. He switches equipment from the Old Pros 10K Run direct to our parade, and it really works. It’s a far cry from the old days with me and my handheld bullhorn, running up and down the parade route. The sound system is flexible and enables us to provide an updated narration of the parade entries, with some background information on each entry to make them more personal for residents.

A very special feature of our parades over the years was the many neighborhood entries that followed the theme of the parade. They were the product of a weekend of work for many as a way of saying thank you to other residents and, of course, pride in their community unity and wanting to be part of the parade. Nils Pearson has been our perennial head judge and coordinates judging efforts. We thank him and all the judges who did this job for us over the years. The truly wonderful neighborhood floats certainly have been a hit of all our parades.

Over the years we have had some terrific parade chairs. I would like to remind you of some of them: SRCA treasurer Brian Allman; Bill Crooks, the current Miramar Ranch North Planning Committee chair; Jim Ball; SRCA secretary and current chair Jany Staley; and, Marc Sorensen, SRCA past president who had the “wonderful opportunity” of filling in for me as chair when Gaye and I were stuck in Hawaii and could not return in time for the parade. Ugh! That is what is called giving a replacement a “challenging and interesting” assignment.

It goes without saying that any community event for the 4th of July and other happenings can function only with the tremendous resident support, many times extending for years. The Old Pros and Scripps Ranch Women’s Athletic Club turn out, I am sure, at least a hundred each to put on their event as well as in preparation of it.

For the 4th of July Parade we had a dedicated and effective committee led by Jany Staley, the fabulous chair, with members Elissa Barber, Bob Ilko, Victoria Mazelli, Jay Wurtzler, Nemie Capacia, Reuben Suzara, Carolyn Chambers, Mark Schecter, Gaye and Bob Dingeman, and Awilda Parada. We also recruit parade judges, parade marshals, cleanup crews, face painters, ice cream distributors, and trash cleanup crews.

Our original parade rules that we have retained over the years are:

  • Keep it local, i.e., no commercial floats or entries;
  • Invite all elected officials as guests;
  • No political activity or campaigning allowed;
  • No fundraising during the parade;
  • Concentrate on fun for all;
  • Emphasize neighborhood activities and entries, including youth groups;
  • Honor all servicemen, women, and veterans;
  • Include entries from police and fire departments and local groups;
  • Ensure the narrator has the information to introduce all entries and include names as appropriate;
  • Make sure the parade starts on time and moves smoothly;
  • Include an ice cream social at Hoyt Park after the parade and include a patriotic flag-raising event as well as games and music; and,
  • Honor our sponsors and merchants who support our community events.

These guidelines have served us well over the years, ensuring a fun time for all of our residents.

New School District Superintendent

Happy to read that the interim district superintendent, Bill Kowba, has been selected as the new superintendent and given a new contract. He brings with him a current knowledge of our district budget problems and administration that is unique and should serve him well. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and has shown a calm and experienced method of dealing with the staff and dealing with new problems and their solutions.

As we have had a revolving door recently of district superintendents unable to work in harmony apparently with the board of trustees, we hope and expect to see greater levels of cooperation and harmony with the superintendent and his management by the board. The primary focus always should be to create the most efficient functioning and operating district and the finest schooling provided to all students.

We welcome Bill aboard and assure him of our continued interests in and support of all our schools while working for the highest achievements by our students. Also he has our cooperation in his endeavors for progress.

Our Schools

As we complete this school year we are proud of the singular accomplishments of our Scripps Ranch schools despite the turmoil and fiscal uncertainties and the many changes it required. The more dire predictions of budget cuts seemed to have materialized and impacted our schools. Despite this, we have tried to maintain a sense of equity in how the district allocates funds and to remember that the system must always be strongly focused on what schooling is all about–and it is not the schools or others but the individual student and his or her educational achievement.

In this vein our thanks and congratulations go to all of the students for their special efforts to excel and to the parents and faculty for helping make this possible. The coming year will undoubtedly present many similar challenges and few ready solutions, but working together we can and will have another good year.

Council Office Staffing Change

We bid farewell to Kelly Batten who has resigned from her position as Scripps Ranch representative in the District 5 council office. We extend to Kelly our sincere thanks for her many services in support of Scripps Ranch while attending our many community meetings. These are greatly appreciated and we wish Kelly good luck in her endeavors.

We welcome Jack Straw, who has been hired by Councilmember Carl DeMaio to serve our community. We look forward to working with him.

Trees Are Us

We apparently still need to have a lot more dialogue with the city to ensure that there is proper instruction on how to conduct a well-coordinated city action plan concerning removing eucalyptus trees under the FEMA grant. I’m talking about the trees that have been declared dangerous to the community or to residents from a safety standpoint after detailed inspection by a qualified city arborist and risk management expert.

We still are experiencing the cutting down of eucalyptus trees larger than specified and leaving cuttings and debris on the ground for a couple of weeks there afterward. The city then must come back using a licensed contractor to apply a paste poison to the stumps to retard re-growth of the trees.

We also are concerned that all of this must continue to be done under the specific advice of a trained city arborist. Further, that the city contractors be properly supervised in all the work so that the cumulative impact on our open space and our collective safety will be enhanced. It’s equally important that the Scripps Ranch Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) manager be kept fully informed of all city activity planned and conducted in our open space for which she is responsible.


When everything was so still

I listened to the lone bugler

Play the beautiful music of Taps

and I felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times

That Taps had meant “amen and farewell”

When our flag had draped a coffin

On an American hero

Who gave his life for us.

Thank the veterans who fought for our country and remember those who gave their lives for us. Thank the servicemen and women who defend us now and deserve our support. Be ever mindful of our past and the fragility of our future without our support.