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Our Laguna: It was a great day for a parade

March 10, 2011|By Barbara Diamond

Blue skies were shining on the Patriots Day Parade on Saturday, and the mood was sunny as well.

"Welcome Home" was the theme of the 45th annual parade. It was perhaps most meaningful to the veterans returning home from the Middle East.

"To all of them we gratefully said by our actions and words: 'Welcome Home,'" parade committee President Michael Lyons said.

Parade Grand Marshals Al Roberts and Ken Jillson certainly found their spiritual home when they landed in Laguna Beach in the 1960s and joined forces. It was the perfect place for their combined skills and philosophy.

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They were honored by the parade committee for the creation and funding of the AIDS Services Foundation starting in the 1980s when the pandemic virus was decimating the city's gay population.

"It is such an honor to be named marshals," Jillson said. "There are so many people in this town that deserve it."

Actually, the committee wanted to honor them last year.

"But we were going to Chile," Roberts said. "Then the earthquake happened and the trip was canceled."

Also honored this year: Patriot of the Year Frank Keneley; Citizen of the Year Pat Kollenda; Junior Citizens of the Year Caroline Rechter and Ben Hanson; Athlete of the Year and Coastline Pilot columnist James Pribram; and Artists of the Year Laguna College of Art & Design, represented by college President Dennis Power.

Their biographies were printed in the parade program, along with a history of the parade, edited by committee Treasurer Sandi Werthe and winning essay on the "Welcome Home" by Thurston Middle School sixth-grader Kaden Matheson. Laguna Beach High School student Madeleine Brian designed the program cover.

Following their trip down the parade route, the honorees were seated in a reviewing stand in front of City Hall.

"The view of the parade is definitely different — it's so much fun I wanted to do it again," Kollenda said in the stand, tented for the first time and erected, under the capable direction of Retired Police Capt. Eugene D'Isabella and committee Vice President Charles Quilter II, who also writes most of the text in the parade program.

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