Anza Days returns to town, celebrating 87th year 

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“Pair-A-Normals” visit the 86th annual Anza Lions Club Anza Days parade. Diane Sieker photo

The excitement is electrifying as the fun-filled weekend of Anza Days approaches June 28-30. For the last 87 years, the action-packed event has been a festive part of the community and its history that is put on by civic organizations and their many volunteers.

Since the Anza Lions Club took over the event organization in 1976, the celebration has developed into a series of traditions that residents look forward to and plan for all year.

Selected by popular vote online, this year’s theme is “Mardi Gras,” a subject which promised wild costumes, creative float designs, shimmery hues and a carnival atmosphere.

This year’s grand marshall is Ted Wellman. Anza Days dignitaries will feature local firefighters along with Smokey Bear, honorary mayor Zane Grey the mule and the Anza Lions Club’s honorary four-legged Lion Deputy Mayor, the Lion Queen. There will be a military fly over again this year to kick off the parade.

The weekend will begin with a barbecue and film festival Friday evening, June 28. The annual Anza Film Fest will be sponsored by Sandi Hughes and Annika Knoppel. The show will start at sundown on the patio of the Anza Valley Business Center across Highway 371 from Minor Park. Moviegoers are advised to bring their own chairs. The feature film is “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” This is a free event.

Also Friday night, starting at 5 p.m., the Community Hall will serve up Danny Stone’s tri-tip barbecue sandwiches and plates.

A barn dance will take place in the park Friday evening, with the Nameless band slinging the hits from 5-8 p.m.

Beginning at about 7 a.m., Saturday, June 29, the Thimble Club ladies will take control of the Community Hall kitchen, serving pancakes accompanied by a slice of watermelon, scrambled eggs, sausage links, coffee and orange juice. All proceeds from the charity event are collected and dispersed to local charities in need.

Floats, equestrian groups, vintage cars and more will line up a long Bahrman Road starting at about 8 a.m., and judging of the parade entries will begin at 8:30 a.m. For interested parties, it is not too late to submit parade entry forms. They are available online at www.anzalionsclub.com.

Parking is encouraged off the highway in the open fields and in parking lots to keep the side of the road open for spectators.

Sunscreen and water are advised. The parade will travel between Bahrman Road and the Anza Community Hall, along Highway 371 through the heart of Anza. The announcer’s booth will be located by Minor Park.

Some families stake out their parade-viewing spots the night before. Good-natured competition occurs as people jockey for the best positions and the party is on.

Highway 371 will be closed at 10:45 a.m. and open again at approximately 1 p.m. between Bautista Road and Hill Street. Please follow detours, as pedestrians and children will be in the roadway during that time. Officers will be present to ticket violators. The CHP and the Anza Valley Citizens Patrol will assist with traffic control.

Kathy Blair will perform the national anthem on horseback to kick off the parade, which will start at 11 a.m. and will last about an hour.

Immediately following the parade, the festivities start at Minor Park. There will be various vendors offering great food, games, shopping and more, organized by the Anza Civic Improvement League. A horseshoe tournament is also planned. Live music by the Barnyard Boyz will provide the entertainment for the afternoon. More vendors and activities are yet to be announced.

Vendor forms and parade entry forms and all things Anza Days can be found at www.anzalionsclub.org.

“As usual, absolutely no water balloons or silly string allowed,” Lions president Mimi Brown said. “Also, no vending along the 371. All vendors must set up inside the park. CHP and sheriffs will be there for violators. We need to keep this safe and fun for everyone. Permits are harder to get each year, and we must abide by regulations set out in the permits or the county will revoke future permits for our annual parade. We want to see this event reach the 100th year mark and many more thereafter.”

The Anza Lions Club will host an appreciation barbecue Sunday, June 30, with water games, dunk tank and more at the Lions field at 39551 Kirby Road, starting at noon. Volunteers will eat free.

Parade entries will choose next year’s theme. The winning theme for the 2020 Anza Days will be announced Friday, July 5, on the Lions Club website and local media.

Additional Minor Park and ACIL information can be found at www.anzacivic.org/index.html.

To contact the Lions Club, visit www.anzalionsclub.com.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at anzaeditor@reedermedia.com.