Old Favorites, New Sounds at Palisades Fourth of July Parade

By Laura Abruscato
Contributing Writer Photos by Luis Velasquez

Pleasing sounds from woodwinds, brass, drums and bagpipes will permeate the Palisades while 13 bands march in this year’s Fourth of July parade, including the Owatonna High School Band from Minnesota and two local favorites— the OomPaPa Band and the Palisades High School Band.

PAPA, the parade organizing committee, works with Pageantry Productions, an events company with considerable parade experience, to have a variety of new and returning bands and styles of music in the parade.

Pageantry’s David and Elizabeth Sarell are coordinating the parade line-up.

Sousaphones played along the parade route.
Sousaphones played along the parade route.
The OomPaPa Band continues to be a crowd favorite.
The OomPaPa Band continues to be a crowd favorite.

People who play trumpet, tuba, trombone, saxophone, flute, clarinet or drums can still join the Palisades’ own OomPaPa Marching Band, a group of local musicians that was founded in 1975 by local realtors Sandy Schaffer and Louise and Gene Romig.

The group continually evolves as it mixes longtime members with newcomers. Co-chairs Phyllis Schlessinger and Margot Morrison are both original members, and Schlessinger will be marching with her clarinet for the 42nd time.

“I’ll keep doing it as long as I can,”she says.

“We’d love to have new people. I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there who used to be in bands in high school. It’s a lot of fun.”

The band also welcomes flag and banner holders and younger children who walk behind holding small American flags.

Rehearsals were held at the intersection of Pampas Ricas and Ocampo on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and Monday at 6 p.m. “The evening before the parade, we march through the Huntington and everybody comes out to greet us,” says Schlessinger. 

Wearing their white shirts and red hats, and led by veteran drum major and band director Mark Eisenberg, the band will play “76 Trombones,”“California, Here I Come,” “Louie, Louie” and more in the parade.

For information on joining the Oom-PaPa Band, contact Phyllis at (310) 613-0194 or Margot at (310) 459-3516.

The award-winning Palisades High School Band has also been a beloved part of the parade for more than a decade. The band plays at weekly football games and various marching band competitions throughout the year. Conductor Alex Dale took over the PaliHi program from Arwen Hernandez last year. A former PaliHi graduate, Dale studied at Northwestern and taught for a year in the Chicago suburbs before returning to his alma mater.

Palisades High School band will once again march in the parade.
Palisades High School band will once again march in the parade.

“I love that now that I’m back, I still see that supportive environment,” Dale said. “It’s an inclusive community. Everyone who is part of this program immediately has 100 friends and a group in high school, and I think that’s really important.”

Another crowd favorite is the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band. Last Fourth of July, the band played in three different parades: the Huntington Beach 4th of July Parade, the Lake Forest 4th Parade and Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade, and also at a celebration on the Queen Mary. The New Orleans style band is based in Los Angeles. This band, with members Hilarion Domingue and Louis Thomas (sax); David Silverman, Lewis Holt, Peter Reale, Robbie Hioki (sousaphone); Alvin Starks, Lonza Lester, Michael Daigeau, Dan Weinstein and Moses Hall (trombone); Billy Butler, Cliff, Adrian Peek and Sean Collins Sr. (drums); and Jeff Kaye (trumpet), co tinues to delight parade goers as they saunter down the street accompanied by women twirling umbrellas and throwing mardi gras-style necklaces.

In additional to playing at weddings and funerals, the New Orleans band has been featured at Disneyland.

Among the new bands this year will be the award-winning Warren High School marching band and color guard from Downey. About 150 of the band’s members will be marching.

“This will be the first time that I know of that the band has participated in a Fourth of July parade in school history,” says band director David Niemeyer. “I am very excited to give my students this experience and I am confident they will have a blast performing. I hope that the community of Pacific Palisades and all in attendance also find joy in our patriotic performance.”

They will be performing two arrangements of popular American marches.

Also new to the parade is the Impulse Drum & Bugle Corps of Buena Park. “Currently, we have 45 members (ages 14 to 21) in the corps and will be performing music from our 2017 competitive show, ‘In The Beginning’,” says Robert “Bob” Briggs, the group’s assistant director. The band will be performing in Drum Corps International competitions across the country this summer.

Other parade newcomers will be the 300th Army Band, the Kevin R. Blandford Memorial Pipe Band and Charros de Compton.

The Villa Park High School Band from Orange will make its fifth parade appear- ance. The Marchin’ Spartans, dressed in their cadet-style white, black and blue uniforms, are an 80-plus member unit, under the direction of Charles Jay.

Also returning will be the Incognito Drum and Bugle Corps from Garden Grove, the Norwalk All-City Youth Band, Rancho La Laguna (equestrian/band) and the Pasadena Scottish Pipes & Drums Band.

Pasadena Scottish Pipes & Drums Band returns to the Palisades parade on July 4.
Pasadena Scottish Pipes & Drums Band returns to the Palisades parade on July 4.
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