‘Palisades on Parade’ Chosen as Winning Theme

By Jessie Levine
Special to the Palisades News

Planning for the Palisades Fourth of July can now officially begin with the selection of Shirley Griffith’s theme, “Palisades on Parade.”

When asked her reaction upon hearing that her theme was the winning choice, Shirley was elated. “It’s the highlight of my week!”

This year more than 50 entries were submitted and the Palisades Americanism Parade Association volunteers voted for their three top favorites at the May 8 meeting. The choices were tallied and Griffith’s theme came out on top.

Shirley Griffith penned the winning theme for this year’s parade. Photo: Lesly Hall Photography
Shirley Griffith penned the winning theme for this year’s parade. Photo: Lesly Hall Photography

“I’ve never won anything before,” she told PAPA President Daphne Gronich, who notified her last week. Griffith credits her son Morgan, 17, as being an excellent sounding board in conceptualizing her theme idea this year. “The Palisades Fourth of July Parade is truly representative of our community, so the theme might as well officially honor the various organizations that are always involved,” said Griffith, who has been submitting ideas for the past six years. “I thought it would be worthwhile to give it another try.”

Her inspiration for “Palisades on Parade” comes directly from the outstanding people and organizations who participate in the annual parade, year after year. One of her favorite groups is the Optimist Club’s semi-naked drill team. “They must be very optimistic to wear those short shorts!” she said.

Griffith, the senior vice president of the entertainment and hospitality division of JLT Speciality USA, moved from Reseda to the Palisades 21 years ago with husband Michael Bourke.

Growing up in Astoria, New York, Griffith attended Hunter College before coming to UCLA to finish her degree. While on a vacation in the Cayman Islands, she met Bourke, who was from Adare, Ireland. He had a brother living in California, so when the couple married, Michael happily moved here with Griffith, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen.

The family has attended the parade every year since Morgan, who now attends Notre Dame High, was two years old.

Griffith still remembers that first parade. “The standout memory for me is the warmth of all of the attendees of the parade,” she said. “On this day in the Palisades, everyone is on their best behavior. When we were new in the community, it was so nice talking to people and discovering that the whole community was so welcoming. My husband and I felt that we had really made the right choice in moving to the Palisades, and we felt very blessed.”

Bourke, 56, died unexpectedly in 2013.

Aside from coming up with winning ideas for parade themes, Griffith and her son are involved with Corpus Christi Church.

Griffith is a member of the church group, Annas, which is responsible for managing the church environ- ment for important church events like Easter and Christmas. Shirley and Morgan also volunteer at St. Robert’s Center, a homeless shelter in Venice.

“The Palisades is a wonderful community to live in— we should be grateful for every day and try not to sweat the small stuff,” Griffith said. “We’re surrounded by wonderful people and blessed with fabulous weather.”

Wave to Shirley when she and her son ride along the parade route atop a Station 69 fire truck.

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