Butterfly Parade 2013

1970s Butterfly parade
1970s Butterfly Parade

Self sustaining before it was a UN buzz phrase. One of the few remaining events that are not capitalized on. Flutter on, little chrysalis’ and butterflies.

On a sunlit, 80-plus degree Saturday morning in Pacific Grove, several hundred kids dressed up as insects, sea creatures, farmers, artists, pioneers, clowns and healthy vegetables for the 75th annual Butterfly Parade and Bazaar.

A few parents, grandparents, babies and dogs dressed for the occasion, too.

The popular, don’t-you-wish-you-lived-here event is a rite of passage for Pacific Grove grade-schoolers. As they move from kindergarten to fifth grade, they get promoted from caterpillars to monarch butterflies, lady bugs, bumble bees, jellyfish, otters, farmers, pioneers, gold miners and, finally, clowns.

They gather in their handmade costumes in front of Robert Down Elementary School to pose for the paparazzi, then convene with their classmates for a 1-square-block strut that starts and ends on Pine Avenue.

Butterfly Parade 2013

Time For Pacific Grove Good Old Days

Stupid Chamber Of Commerce forgot to mention the parade. Too busy having orgasms in the back office.

Pictures from barovelli.com

Balloon platoon
GOD fried fries

Pacific Grove’s annual community event will be April 10 to 11. Good Old Days will feature more than 240 vendors from 12 states displaying arts, crafts and other wares. There will also music, entertainment and 30 food booths at the street fair, the largest arts and crafts gathering in Monterey County.

Time For Pacific Grove Good Old Days

Don't Rain On My Parade

Butterfly Parade title

Picture from Ford Times, 1977

Ominous-looking rain clouds obligingly held back long enough Saturday to allow the 69th annual Butterfly Parade in Pacific Grove.

The event celebrating the yearly return of monarch butterflies is as identifiable with the seaside community as its ocean views and its “America’s Last Hometown” reputation.

A few sprinkles were felt. That was all.

“The parade has (not) been rained out in 34 years,” said Dave Anderson, a third-grade teacher at Robert Down Elementary School. Anderson, dressed as an Indian chief, led his students who were garbed in tribal costume.

Don’t Rain On My Parade

Time To Start Charging For Events?

Some events are mostly for-profit operations, like the Good Old Days on Lighthouse Avenue. Charge them but anything involving kids and family should  be exempt.

The council is expected to review the 24 special events proposed for the period March 2008 through February 2009 with an eye to seeking reimbursement for city costs from some of them.

Traditional events that have been exempt from paying city service fees have included Good Old Days, the Fourth of July Celebration, Feast of Lanterns, the Concours Auto Rally, the Butterfly Parade, Pacific Grove High School Homecoming Parade, the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, Downtown Holiday Parade of Lights, and Stilwell’s Snow in the Park. The council could consider seeking reimbursement during the coming year from some or all of these events.

Time To Start Charging For Events?

Flash Back! Butterfly Parade From The 1970s

Butterfly Parade Cover

Ford Times, October 1977

1970s Butterfly parade

Each autumn the visitors come drifting across Monterey Bay, delicate flecks of orange and black against the crisp blue sky, wafted along by the southerly air current and the typically erratic beat of their own wings. Residents of Pacific Grove, California, watch for them, marveling at the unerring instinct that brings millions of fragile monarch butterflies to winter at this small seacoast village year after year.

Arrival of the first velvet-winged visitors in early October stirs a bustle of activity as Pacific Grove school children prepare a regal welcome, the annual Butterfly Parade. Thousands of residents and visitors will line the curbs October 15 this year to watch colorfully costumed children march to the blare and oom-pah-pah of glittering school bands, celebrating the gloriously unusual gift that nature’s whimsical magic brings to this town.

Pacific Grove, dubbed “Butterfly Town U.S.A.” by its Chamber of Commerce, is a salty seawhisper of a town: rustic homes, cottages and sprawling resort motels nestled among sweet-scented Monterey pines, oaks, eucalyptus and wind-blown cypress at the thumbnail end of the Monterey Peninsula. Here the quiet waters of Monterey Bay nudge against the endless rolling swells of the blue Pacific some 125 miles south of San Francisco. No one knows when the monarchs first began their October to March sojourns here; coastal Indians spoke of them long before the first white settlers came.

An advance contingent of “scouts” flits into Pacific Grove a month before the main migration, searching out certain groves of trees, almost always the same ones favored by the previous year’s A visitors. Local folklore has it that monarchs will avoid a tree where butterflies were disturbed the year before. Natural scientists smile at this and theorize that monarchs a follow thermal air layers to there town, then locate favored resting trees by an ultra sensitive sense of smell that zeros in on residual odors left by the prior generation.

When the main army of monarchs invades this coastal town, trees and shrubs literally bloom in butterflies. Clustering thickly on branches and leaves, piling atop one another, resting monarchs respond to the touch of morning sun by spreading brilliant orange and A black inner wings, a breathtaking show of kaleidoscopic colors. On cool or rainy days the outer wings shut tight, assuming the brownish hues of dead leaves.

Pacific Grove officially protects its gentle visitors under a not so gentle town ordinance that imposes a $500 fine on anyone caught molesting them – an overt expresic sign of loving regard for the butterflies as well as a tacit recognition of their value in bringing tourist trade.

Not surprisingly, the monarch motif pops up frequently in downtown shops and businesses. Colorful cardboard monarchs spread their wings over window merchandise displays. Besides the expected picture postcards, slides and posters there are monarch-decorated drinking glasses, coasters, ash trays, place mats, pillows and other ephemera. Local buses label themselves “Mini-Monarch” or “Maxi-Monarch,” depending on size, sprouting enormous painted monarch wings along their gleaming white side panels. Oblivious of the various artistic and commercial renderings of their fair anatomies, monarchs flit and glide about town, pausing to sip nectar from flowering shrubs, blossoming window boxes and fall flower gardens.

One of the best known groves of “butterfly trees” in town is on the grounds of Milar Butterfly Grove Motel near the end of Lighthouse Avenue, the town’s main street. Ghostly wisps of gray-green Spanish moss beard high pine branches, providing choice gathering sites for monarchs. By November masses of monarchs cover the trees in living orange and black drapery. The gift shop in the motel office is a collector’s paradise of framed butterfly specimens.

Finally it is the day of the big Butterfly Parade. Cross streets blocked by wooden barricades are manned directing out-of-towners to nearby parking. Families stream from cars, little ones in tow, heading toward the smattering of early arrivals who have already staked out curbside claims.

Several blocks away all is tumult at Robert Down School where 1,200 costumed paraders are gathering. A frantic mother searches for her preschooler, finds him asking a band member if he can toot his tuba. Teachers line up stragglers in their places, glancing about anxiously for the missing ones. A car pulls up, dropping off a small girl who shrieks as the car door slams on her butterfly wing. The door opens, the wing is straightened and all is well again. A clarinet ripples up and down a scale.

High school band members, sharp in brand new scarlet uniforms and white hats, feign boredom, as if the parade is a bit young for them.

Down on the comer of Lighthouse and Fountain, spectators peer up the hill expectantly, front liners checking their cameras. It is a sparkling crisp blue-skied day, the kind parade planners pray for.

“Here they come!” a sharp eyed, white haired grandfather yells as he points up Fountain Avenue hill. The faraway muffled rum-te-dum of the bass drum and a few faint rah-tara-las from the trombones drift down on a wisp of breeze. Fathers hoist toddlers to their shoulders as the music grows louder.

“Why does the band keep stopping?” a visitor asks. “The preschoolers are right behind them,” a local explains. “The tots determine the pace of the whole shebang.” It doesn’t matter. The slow approach whets the appetite for greater enjoyment.

The junior high band in front executes its turn with casual aplomb, horns and buttons gleaming, tootling and drumming a smile onto the face of the crowd. “Randolph’s out of step again,” a mother whispers. The band passes grandly, followed by the youngest kids in the parade, wide eyed nursery schoolers who seem to think the whole thing is organized so they can stare at the spectators.

“There’s Suzy!” yells a small boy with a big voice. Looking more like the littlest angel than a butterfly, Suzy pops a finger into her mouth and turns her head,embarrassed.

Butterfly Parade happy faces

Mothers skirt the edge of the street anxiously, the “safety pin brigade” as one teacher calls them. If a wing sags or a costume threatens to disintegrate, one of the mothers will dash into the parade and make instant repairs. Butterfly wings are legion and some kids sprout pipe-cleaner antennae from headbands.

Surprises are inevitable since classes decide on their own costume theme each year. Green clad, tinsel trimmed youngsters pretend to be Martians visiting the monarchs. Coonskin-capped pioneers and their bonneted, long-skirted “womenfolk” march west to “discover” the monarchs while a tribe of diminutive Indians in feathers and painted faces protests “WE FOUND THEM FIRST” on a large banner. The crowd laughs and applauds.

Butterfly Parade bellbottoms

In an hour the parade is over. Visitors begin to stream back to their cars, or join townspeople heading for the PTA Bazaar where games, contests, food, drink and white elephant sales will prolong the fun a few more hours.

Overhead monarchs glide and flutter in the sun. Next year their progeny will most certainly return to Pacific Grove while scientists continue to puzzle over exactly how they do it. Perhaps the secret isn’t so mysterious. After all, who would want to miss the marvelous Butterfly Parade?

Flash Back! Butterfly Parade From The 1970s

Hometown Events Safe, Council Says

After what Susan Goldbeckc alled a “tempest in a teapot,” Pacific Grove’s City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to exempt 10 downtown events from paying thousands of dollars in overtime and other costs to the city.

“You automatically pushed our protecting button,” former Feast of Lanterns president Sue Renz told the council.

‘Hometown spirit’ events in P.G. Events exempted from city fees: Good Old Days Fourth of July Celebration Feast of Lanterns Concourse Auto Rally & Barbecue Butterfly Parade Pacific Grove High School Homecoming Parade High School Marching Band Competition Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony Stillwell’s Snow in the Park Holiday Parade of Lights

Hometown Events Safe, Council Says