Daphne Gronich Plans the Year’s Biggest Party in Pacific Palisades—Again

By Sue Pascoe

Imagine putting on a community party that more than 25,000 people will attend. Then, just to make your task a little more interesting, try planning it on a budget of $150,000 that you have to raise from scratch. Then to really challenge yourself, use only volunteers—you can’t fire anyone, even when a person “flakes out” at the last minute and can’t do what they have promised.

Palisadian Daphne Gronich has done this not only once, but four times, as president of PAPA (Palisades Americanism Parade Association), the parade, concert and fireworks organizing committee.

Parade President Daphne Gronich. Photo: Lesly Hall Photography
Parade President Daphne Gronich.
Photo: Lesly Hall Photography

She leads with efficiency and a sense of humor while juggling emails, working on legal issues with the City of Los Angeles, seeking contributions and dealing with last-minute changes and surprises.

Still, this unpaid volunteer remains upbeat. As she told the Palisades News,“It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to have the entire community come together to celebrate, have fun as families and hang out with friends and strangers.”

Gronich is a self-employed lawyer who works on intellectual property rights for clients. She also works pro bono for nonprofits and has been an active leader in local public schools. 

PAPA’s president recalls the first Palisades parade she attended in 1999.

“Anthony Hopkins was grand marshal and I remember thinking how funny it was to have an Englishman helping us Americans celebrate Independence Day,” Gronich said. “My husband and I and my parents sat in the grandstands and enjoyed getting to meet and talk to so many different people from all over who now made their home in the Palisades.”

Gronich’s father, S. Frederick, was a decorated Army lieutenant colonel who served during World War II. After the war, he was put in charge of researching German documents for evidence of war crimes, which set the stage for the “Hill Project” investigations conducted by the Western Allied governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, according to military documents published in the Journal of Contemporary History.

Though born in New York, Daphne Gronich was raised in Europe. After graduating from the American School of Paris for international affairs, she moved to New York and earned a juris doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law and later a master of laws degree from New York University. Gronich joined an intellectual property firm in New York, then moved to Los Angeles, where she worked in various legal positions at Fox before becoming the head of intellectual property there.

Gronich took a year off when her son, Eli, was born and then worked as general counsel for toy company MGA Entertainment. She left the company in 2007 to care for her mother, Raquel, after a hip injury left her unable to care for herself.

She also started volunteering. When Eli attended Palisades Elementary, Gronich co-chaired the booster club and sat on the governing council. He graduated and moved to Revere and so did Gronich, where she helped with the charter renewal process and was part of governance, representing parents. She is also the current president of the

Palisades Charter Schools Foundation, an organization that provides support to seven LAUSD charter schools.

Last year, the Pacific Palisades Community Council named Gronich the Citizen of the Year for her volunteer efforts.

Gronich says there’s a difference between volunteering in education and for PAPA. “Unlike schools, where there is a fresh crop of volunteers with each entering class, some of the PAPA volunteers have been helping organize the parade and fireworks show for over 30 years. It would be nice if more new volunteers stepped forward, shadowed these volunteers as they pursue their assignments and prepared to assume responsibility to en- sure that the events can continue indefinitely.”

The best part of being PAPA president is “Getting to spend time, getting to know and work with so many incredible Palisadians of all ages and to see how happy people are—especially kids—to be able to enjoy this small-town parade.”

When children learn she has helped organize the parade, they always make a point to tell her what they liked the best.

Will she be back for a fifth year? “I’m not planning on it,” Gronich said, but noted that her husband Paul Nagle—a longtime television executive and faculty member in the UCLA Department of Film, Television and Digital Media—reminded her that “next year will be the 70th annual parade.”

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