Anza Days goes on despite pandemic

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An Anza Days participant raises the American flag at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena to signify the start of Anza Days Saturday, June 27. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo

The Anza Lions Club and Anza Chamber of Commerce held a new and different Anza Days parade Saturday, June 27. This year the home of the event was Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena and surrounding area, instead of Highway 371 from Bahrman Road to Minor Park where it has been traditionally been held.

Featuring the always popular parade, vendors and awards presentations, the state did not give the township permission to close down the state highway for the parade, Mimi “Michele” Brown, Anza Lions Club chairman and president, told Anza Valley Outlook in June.

“We can’t do it there now, so it will be here at the arena and the land around it,” Brown said.

Kathy Blair performs the national anthem at the annual Anza Days parade, while a rider displays the American flag. The event was held at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo

The Lions’ horse arena, 35591 Kirby Road, hosts the area’s gymkhanas and other community events, including Pioneer Days, during the year.

At the height of the event about 1,000 people converged upon Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena to celebrate Anza Days which also featured entertainers, a flyover, miniature golf course, sumo wrestling matches, a 16-foot tall rock-climbing wall and a mechanical bull. Roughly 300-500 people could be found on the grounds at almost any time during the day, according to Brown.

The parade’s grand marshal was Thomas Firth, and the chamber of commerce provided entertainment including The Rollies, followed by Moon Shot.

This year’s parade winners were Kathy Blair for Best Equine, Valley Auto for Most Unique. Steve Silkotch for Best vehicle, American Indian Nation Cowgirls for Best Entry and Lorraine’s Pet Supply for Best Float with the Anza Lions Club taking home bragging rights as the grand prize winner. This year’s judges were Cliff Merems and Maya Baker, Brown said.

Even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Miss Anza Days competition was still held, and Norah Olsen was named Wee Miss Anza Days, Ella Olsen was named Lil Miss Anza Days, Maya Baker was named Teen Miss Anza Days, Sedona Dawes was named Jr. Miss Anza Days and Tabitha Dawes was named as Miss Anza Days.

A sky diver drops in on the 88th annual Anza Days at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo

The Lions Club thanked all its donors and supporting including Sinclair Gas Station, Anza Valley Chamber Of Commerce, Anza Valley Thimble Club, Lion Philip Canaday, Lake Riverside Estates, Cali Produce, Ted & Tyler Fink, Rodney Bourgeois, James Lanik, Brian Bahari, Sean Holmquist, Mr. Happy’s Mercantile and John Knori.

Brown said that organizers wished to express their gratitude to volunteers, those who entered the parade and the fire department for sparing two engines for the parade, all who came out and enjoyed it and for everyone helping by following the “Leave No Trace” principles.

“Huge thank you. You made clean up a breeze,” she said.

Next year’s Anza Days theme is myths, legends and fantasy. The 89th annual Anza Days will be held June 26, 2021. Anyone who wishes to volunteer should email anzadays@gmail.com, call 951-763-7075 or visit http://www.anzalionsclub.org. Anyone who wants to share pictures of this year’s 88th annual Anza Days can do so by sending an email to anzadays@gmail.com.

Tony Ault contributed to this story.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at anzaeditor@gmail.com.

Members of Anza Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1873 present the colors during the 88th annual Anza Days parade held at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo
Two parade participants show off their patriotic spirit during the 88th annual Anza Days parade at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo
Valley Auto shows off their patriotic spirit during the 88th annual Anza Days parade at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo
Anza Days parade participants wave to the crowd at Anza Lions Club’s Minor Horse Arena. Anza Valley Outlook/Kyle Hotchkiss photo