‘Anza Days’ set for good old-fashioned family fun

Tow Mater was a big hit courtesy of Barbara Bradford at last year’s Anza Days parade. Jodi Thomas photo

Diane Sieker

The excitement is building as the Anza Days approaches. For about 85 years now, this action-packed first weekend in July has been a festive part of the community and its history. Since the Anza Lions Club took over the organization of the events in 1976, the celebration has developed into a series of traditions that people look forward to and plan for all year.

Selected by popular vote online, this year’s theme is “Hillbillies,” a subject which promises country-bumpkin humor and a lot of laughs. The creativity of Anza’s residents will be something fun to see.

Miss Anza will be chosen in the weeks preceding the weekend. In the past, she has been selected by winning an essay contest, selling the most raffle tickets and any other number of competitions. The Lions Club will announce the contest and supply the entry forms soon, according to the club.

Charlotte Grant Ayliffe is ready for Anza Days.

“I actually love designing and making the floats, whether it was for Cub or Boy Scouts or for the Bobcat Country Boosters, whether I’m driving the vehicle or walking the sideline taking pictures,” she said. “Listening to the crowd cheer our Hamilton Bobcats or the Boy Scouts is quite awesome!”

The almost two-day-long gala will begin with a barbecue and a film festival Friday evening, June 30. The seventh annual Anza Film Fest will be sponsored by Sandi Hughes and Annika Knoppel. Family-friendly short films are planned and the shows will start at sundown on the patio of the Anza Valley Business Center across Hwy. 371 from Minor Park. Moviegoers are advised to bring their own chairs. Local short filmmaker entries are encouraged. This is a free event.

Also on Friday night, starting at 5 p.m., the Community Hall will be serving up Danny Stone’s famous tri-tip barbecue sandwiches and plates. Always the subject of rave reviews, Stone’s barbecue is one of the culinary highlights of the weekend. People can stay and eat in the Hall or take to-go plates and attend other events like the Anza Film Fest that same night.

On Saturday, July 1, beginning at about 8:30 a.m., the Thimble Club will be serving their traditional pancake breakfast at the Community Hall. This full-fledged and satisfying meal is not to be missed. The Thimble Club ladies know how to put on a wonderful event and all proceeds collected are dispersed to local charities in need.

Floats, equestrian groups, vintage cars and more will line up a long Bahrman Road, starting at 8 a.m. and the judging of the parade entries will begin at 9 a.m. For interested parties, it is not too late to submit parade entry forms. They are available online at www.anzalionsclub.com.

Parking is encouraged off the highway in the open fields and in parking lots, to keep the side of the road open for spectators. Sunscreen and water are advised. The parade will travel between Bahrman Road and the Anza Community Hall, along Hwy. 371 through the heart of Anza. The announcer’s booth will be located by Minor Park.

Some families stake out their parade-viewing spots the night before. Good-natured competition occurs as people jockey for the best positions and the party is on.

Hwy. 371 will be closed at 10:30 a.m. then open as soon as the parade ends. California Highway Patrol and the Anza Valley Citizens Patrol will assist with traffic control.

The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. and lasts about an hour. Besides the fun floats and groups, the children will delight in getting hosed by the fire trucks and scrambling after hard candies thrown by the parade participants all along the route.

Mary Perkins, Anza resident since 1989, reminisced about Anza Days passed.

“Some years ago, I invited a few ‘city’ friends up to watch the parade with me,” she said. “They loved it and said it reminded them of Mayberry, making reference to the Andy Griffith Show.  I especially like the horses, old cars, candy toss and all the waving that goes on. I miss the Marine Corps band that used to lead the parade and wish someone would arrange for them to participate again. This is one of the events that makes Anza so special and helps it retain the small-town atmosphere that we love.”

Immediately following the parade, the festivities start at Minor Park. There will be various vendors offering great food, games, live music, shopping and more, organized by the Anza Civic Improvement League. A horseshoe tournament is also planned.

In partnership with the F.U.N. Group, the Community Hall will be serving chicken & rib plates and operating a beer garden. The Bobcat Country Boosters will be offering fan items and apparel. More vendors and activities are yet to be announced.

“I look forward to seeing the whole community come out and be together,” said Brianne Hopkins. “Catching up with friends that I may not see otherwise. I feel like it’s an event that brings the best out of all of Anza’s residents.”

For more info on the seventh Annual Anza Film Fest please email news@sandihughes.us.

Additional Minor Park and ACIL information can be found at www.anzacivic.org/index.html.

To contact the Lions Club, see www.anzalionsclub.com.

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