Clydesdales dressed in red, white and blue gracefully clomped down Orange Avenue, their long, braided tails grazing the ground as they go.
Small, hand-held American flags were scattered among crowd members, complimenting the full-sized flags waving in the light breeze.
Artfully cleaned classic cars hummed down the city’s main drag, reminiscent of the days when those vehicles could be regularly spotted around Coronado, around the same time that the Coronado Fourth of July Parade made its debut.
Welcome to the city’s 74th annual parade, a kickoff to a day’s worth of Independence Day events as 100,000 to 150,000 people came to Coronado to also enjoy the Navy Leap Frogs, concerts and fireworks, according to Coronado Fourth of July President Robert Kracht.
Staking out spots early
Hours before the sun rose, people parked their blankets, chairs, tents, food tables and a brave, designated representative from their group to save spots along the median of Orange Avenue.
Before the speakers came to life with loud music and kids filled the streets with chalk, dedicated parade-watchers waited along the median, a few capitalizing on the momentary quiet for a nap.
A couple of watchers even came prepared with a chess board and cards.
Jonathan Pettit, 11, and his dad Jason Pettit, a longtime Coronado resident, were the designated spot savers for their group of 30 people.
For a group that large, they decided to set up camp at 3 a.m.
We get here at three o’clock because a lot of people now are coming here a lot earlier because it’s getting harder to get a spot on the median.”-Coronado resident Jonathan Pettit.
“We get here at three o’clock because a lot of people now are coming here a lot earlier because it’s getting harder to get a spot on the median,” Jonathan Pettit said. “A few years ago, we were coming at 3:30 a.m. and then [one time] we came here at 2:30 a.m.”
Jason Pettit has lived on the island since he was in third grade. He can attest to a time when people would camp out overnight.
Another Coronado local, Rikki Navarro, came prepared with every piece of Americana decor in her possession to enhance her stake out spot.
Underneath her wide brimmed hat, Navarro smiles and reflected on her love for the parade.
She has been a Coronado local for over 20 years, and has been attending the parade for nearly an equal amount of time.
I just love how the community can come together.”-Coronado resident Rikki Navarro.
“I love the Coronado parade on the Fourth of July,” Navarro said. “I just love how the community can come together.”
The parade itself was brought together more than just the community.
Classic cars, military jeeps, Clysdale horses, miniature ponies, clowns and even a Tom Cruise look-alike strolled down the parade route.
A total of 115 parade entrants made a debut down the heart of Coronado.
Each vehicle carried important people, and all of those people were outfitted in red, white and blue.
Kitchener returns as grand marshal
A sleek black convertible shines in the sun, red leather seats and trim surrounding the double “R” logo sitting pretty in the middle of the steering wheel.
It’s a 2020 Rolls-Royce Dawn and in it sits something – or someone even more unique.
He is Grand Marshal Roy Kitchener, and he is the Commander of Naval Surface Forces for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
It’s his second time in the Coronado Fourth of July Parade.
Looking sharp in his Service Dress Whites, he sits on the top of the leather seats, his uniform standing out among the black and red of the Rolls-Royce. His wife, Sharon, sits next to him.
“I’m coming up on my retirement…If I was staying, you bet I would [continue in the parade],” Kitchener said.
He says he loves being a part of this day.
At the front and leading Kitchener with the rest of the parade is the Chief of the Coronado Police Department, Chuck Kaye, who has been the front of the parade for four years.
“I’m pretty shy,” Kaye said with a laugh. “But it’s a lot of fun. People are just out here to have a good time.”
When the parade starts, he saunters onto Orange Avenue, waving at the crowd with ease.
The crowd is relaxed, enjoying the sun and the company, and the Coronado Fourth of July pulled off another successful 4th of July parade.