Sun 3 Jun 2007
With the traditional lasso twirling and the Coast Guard color guard’s precision marching, Sunday’s Western Weekend parade drew roughly 2,000 spectators, who lined the sidewalks of Point Reyes Station’s three-block long main street.
Of course, back in 1980 and 81, the parade drew crowds of 10,000 people, largely because participating groups came from all over the San Francisco Bay Area. But that large a multitude in a town which then had about 600 residents was overwhelming. Rowdy motorcyclists roared up and down the main street when the parade ended. Beer flowed in the gutters.
The chaos prompted the West Marin Lion’s Club, which then sponsored virtually all of Western Weekend, to call off the parade for two years while retaining the weekend’s Junior Livestock Show. (“Junior” in the sense that all the contestants exhibiting animals were youths from 4-H and FFA clubs.)
When parades resumed in 1984, they were smaller, home-grown affairs. Which from a spectator’s point of view, not to mention public order, is far more comfortable. Of course, there’s still plenty of spit and polish, for Point Reyes is a parttime home for the US Coast Guard Communications Station crew and for Marin County firefighters (seen at rear).
One of the odder entries (last seen heading toward the Old Western Saloon) was dubbed “Light ’em if you got ’em.” The bizarre contraption featured a spinning rack of antlers on the front and belched fire from it’s chimney. At times, the “devil” at left would turn up the gas, and fire would shoot higher into the air. Nervous spectactors were relieved when “the devil” — despite his legendary propensity for mischief — did not turn up the gas while passing under any overhead lines.
Cowgirls for Peace were followed by protesters with a banner: “Stop Bushwhacking the Planet.”
A group from the Dance Palace Community Center danced its way down the parade route.
The Western Weekend barbecue, which followed the noontime parade, was sponsored by the Farm Bureau this year and was held at Toby’s Feed Barn instead of at the Red Barn where it traditionally was held. Also moved from the Red Barn this year was the livestock show, and attendance was sparse Saturday. A spot check around town found most people didn’t know it was being held in rancher Rich Giacomini’s corral next to the Dance Palace.