Everybody Loves a Parade

Press release from the Southern Humboldt Rotary Club written by  Ernie Branscomb:

Good News! The Garberville parade will be happening again next year, on the Saturday before Father’s Day, as it has for many, many years. The Garberville Rotary Club has put on the parade for the past few years, and has elected to continue sponsoring it. This is great news for the many people that love a parade. The Rotary Club is making this announcement early to put aside any rumors that it will not happen next summer. It will happen. So, start thinking of what your float is going to look like. Start gathering your ideas and materials.

In the past, the parade has had a Rodeo theme, with Queens, Princesses, and Grand Marshals. This next year the parade may be independent of the rodeo excitement. Hopefully, the Garberville Rodeo will still be a participant. Whether they do or not will not stop the Parade. Woe be unto the person that tries to stop a parade!

The Rotary Club is going to focus on setting the standard for parades. In the past the parade has had many amazing floats. Back after World War II lumber companies were in full production to build houses for the many returning soldiers. In the 1950’s there were 50 sawmills in the Southern Humboldt school District. Most all of the sawmills participated in the parade, and many donated lumber to construct the floats. One Piercy sawmill put a logging truck with a one-redwood-log load in the parade. They had to get a special permit to get it to town because it was overweight. The special permit comprised of our two California Highway Patrolmen looking the other way. Good Times!

A Whitethorn construction company built an entire sawmill on a float for the Garberville Parade. The Bank of America had a float with a honky-tonk piano player and the ladies of the BofA dressed up like dancing girls and ladies of the night. A lot of people fell in love in that parade. The parade had a “Whiskerino Contest” where every man in town was required to grow a one month beard before the parade. Those that didn’t were rounded up and put in the “Hoosgow.” The Hoosgow was a float built like a jail-cell. The smooth shaven were turned loose after they paid a nominal fine. Usually a bribe to the judge, who generously donated it to the parade committee.

One lumber mill in Fort Brag built such a fabulous float that they hauled it to Garberville to be in our parade. At one time Garberville set the standard for popular parades.

Old Parade Float at Confusion Hill. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

Old Parade Float at Confusion Hill. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

The float was a full sized building of “The Old Woman that lived in a Shoe”. On the way back home, the float was so heavy that it broke the trailer that was hauling it. It was given to a resort south of Piercy called Reynolds Redwoods. It sat there as a tourist attraction for a few years. It was moved to Confusion Hill when the freeway took out Reynolds. It remains at Confusion Hill as an attraction today. If you ever wondered where it came from, now you know, it’s here thanks to the Garberville Parade.

Today’s parades have become much more mechanized, motorcycles, dune buggies, racecars, show cars, heavy equipment. Etc. Even some of the cowboys round up their cattle with four wheelers. However, horses are still a main feature in the parade. Usually the horse entries represent a riders group. We have had jugglers, clowns, unicycle riders, Girl and Boy Scouts, Four H, even the Garberville Rotary Club has had a float on special occasions.A parade entry can be very simple, or as elaborate as you want it to be. One of the all-time favorites of the parade was the Garberville Soroptimist Club’s Lawn Chair Drill team. They marched down the street in unison with their lawn chairs in hand, every so many steps they would stop and do a “Drill”. They would fold and unfold their chairs, flip them into the air, clickity-clack them together and do all kinds of unusual thing with them, sitting, spinning in circles and so on. Some of their moves were hilarious! It just goes to show that many things can make a great parade. So start thinking of what you and your team are going to put together. Don’t let the parade start without you. It has started at 11:00 A.M. SHARP since the Garberville Rotary club started running it. Be there, participate, you will remember it forever!

Oh Yeah! And candy for the kids. Maybe the Farmer’s Market Group can pass out Broccoli.



  • I’ll put my cars in your parade Ernie I got two show cars one is a 1974 one of 3 challenger ,and a all custom brand newly restored 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner.I remember when it was the rodeo parade when I was a kid it was great.

  • I remember 30+ Years ago being asked to be in the parade and it was loads of fun. I was Miss Piggy!

  • My Grandmother helped the rock port fire department build this old shoe. My mom rode in it in a parade when she was 2 years old in rock port. I have pictures of it then 67 years ago.

  • Thank you Kym for posting this. I have run into a lot of people that remember the original parades. We all seem to remember making things out of small chicken wire and stuffing the grids with crepe and tissue paper to look like flowers. There were a lot of beautiful floats. Maybe there should be a trophy for the best “stuffed float”.

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