It’s 6 a.m. 

The air is cool, everything is still silent.

The sun has just risen and the gentle night breeze lingers in the atmosphere. 

The minutes move by as they normally do, unaware of the ticking clock counting down to the day’s festivities. 

It’s the morning of the Fourth of July and Carlynne Allbee has just swung by her friend Kathy Miles’ house to pick her up.

More than a half century as equestrian

Allbee and Miles are equestrians, and Allbee’s been in the Coronado Fourth of July parade for over half a century, starting when Richard Nixon was in the White House and a gallon of gas was about two bits and a dime.

Allbee lives in Flinn Springs in East County, and she will drive to Coronado for the parade, arriving at around 7 a.m. 

I love this parade. I always look forward to it.”

-Equestrian Carlynne Allbee

“I love this parade. I always look forward to it,” Allbee says.

And her actions speak louder than her words. 

First parade in 1971

Allbee first entered the parade in 1971 on her Paint Mare, a regular size breed of horse, and has been in them ever since – save for one year that her horse was injured. 

Carlynne Allbee and her horse in the 1970s. Photo provided by Carlynne Allbee.

The size of the horse is mentioned because Allbee is now known for entering the parade with miniature horses. 

She started a group called the Miniature Horse Cavalcade that walked in the parade from 1980 all the way to 2015.

Doing double time

When she had her group, Allbee would go through the parade twice every now and then, one of the only people to ever go through the parade a second time.

She and Miles held the Coronado and California flags in the beginning of the parade, and if their group went later and she had time to circle around, she’d change costumes and hop in with her group. 

My horses didn’t care. ‘Go for a second time? Sure!'”

-Allbee on walking twice in the Coronado Fourth of July Parade.

“It was fun. And the miniature horses are really sturdy,” Allbee says. “My horses didn’t care. ‘Go for a second time? Sure!’”

Parade Chairman Dave Szymanski is a big supporter of the equestrians joining the parade each year. 

Carlynne Allbee and her Miniature Horse Cavalcade. Photo provided by Carlynne Allbee.

Equestrians large part of parade

Out of the 125 or so entries that the parade sets up for each year, around 15 of them are equestrian groups. 

Szymanski says that a lot of the equestrians Coronado will see on the day of the parade have ridden in many different parades throughout the years, including the Christmas Hollywood Parade and the Rose Parade. 

But each year, they come back to Coronado’s Fourth of July parade.

We’ve had equestrians that have been around 20, 30 years…Some of them, they’re on their second horse.”

-Parade Chairman Dave Szymanski

“We value our equestrians highly…We take care of them. We’ve had equestrians that have been around for 20, 30 years,” Szymanski says. “Some of them, they’re on their second horse.”

Coronado’s parade No. 1

And Allbee agrees. 

“If we had to eliminate all of the parades except one, Coronado would be the one,” Allbee says. “They’re just nice people and the crowd is wonderful.”

There’s that small, hometown feel that Coronado exudes, Szymanski says.

“There’s something about this parade and the spectators that watch that make it much better for them to come here,” he said. 

Carlynne Allbee and her miniature horse, Roz. Photo provided by Carlynne Allbee.

Parade clock ticks down

It’s now 7 a.m. and Allbee gets to her designated spot to unload her horses. 

She’ll spend the next three hours decorating her miniature horses and getting them ready for the parade. 

The clock’s disciplined ticks forges ahead, counting down to the start of Coronado’s Fourth of July Parade: 10 a.m.

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Madeline Yang is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering the City of Coronado, the U.S Navy and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with her Bachelors in Journalism with an emphasis in Visual Storytelling. She loves writing, photography and videography and one day hopes to be a filmmaker. She can be reached by phone at 916-835-5843.