La Cañada Fiesta days

Community members and parade participants at the Fiesta Days Parade during the La Cañada Fiesta Days on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013. (Photo by Libby Cline / May 27, 2013)

From high-rolling fun of Casino Night, through family flicks and the rockets' red glare, to honoring the nation's heroes in a memorial service and watching local heroes grace the parade route, the 41st Annual Memorial Weekend & Fiesta Days celebration is ready to get underway Friday evening.

And with little time to spare, hundreds of volunteers and club members are feverishly working on the finishing touches to make this citywide fete one to remember.

In addition to perennial favorites — like Saturday morning's vintage car show and community breakfast and the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA Fiesta Run on Monday morning — the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce will celebrate this year's theme, "Homegrown," with a number of fitting events, according to Chamber Executive and President Pat Anderson.

"Things are coming together quite nicely," she said. "We really are home grown."

Film director Chris Buck, a longtime La Cañadan who recently won an Oscar for his work on the hit movie "Frozen," will introduce the movie on Saturday's Family Flick Night, and Olympic hero Kate Hansen will participate in Monday's Memorial Day Parade, Anderson said.

The parade's grand marshal will be the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn., being honored for consistently creating hand-crafted, home-built float entries in the annual Rose Parade.

About 5,000 spectators are expected to watch the parade, with attendance at Sunday night's fireworks show, sponsored by the Allen Lund Company, expected to draw as many as 1,000, Anderson estimates.

While most spectators are sure to enjoy Fiesta Days, several participating organizations will wake at the crack of dawn in advance of each day's festivities.

Take, for example, the Saturday morning community breakfast, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada-AM. Club members will hit Memorial Park around 6:30 a.m. to prep cook stations and lay out tables, according to President Joe Thompson, who has an especially sweet job to do.

"I have to pick up the syrup from McDonald's," Thompson said, naming one of the many donors who make the event possible.

Kiwanis AM secretary Rosemary Hook, the breakfast's head cook, has done the meal for seven years. She organizes the work into stations before dipping the first slices of 1,000 loaves of French toast bread. After that comes 1,200 sausage links and unimaginable quantities of milk and orange juice.

"You just have to make more batches of everything," Hook explained of the scale. "And you just have to check to see how much is empty."

To remind revelers what the weekend is all about, a 9 a.m. service will be held at La Cañada's Memorial Park Monday to honor servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price in service to their country.

Eagle Scout Graham Miketta will serve as master of ceremonies, and children will read letters and prose written by soldiers from the Revolutionary War to Desert Shield. Veterans are encouraged to attend and speak, according to organizer and Valley Sun columnist Joe Puglia.

Anderson is sure, given everything on the weekend's agenda, there will be no reason to leave town.

"If at the end of the weekend people say, "I didn't go anywhere else this weekend,' that's the crowning touch," she said.

FYI

Check out the Valley Sun's full schedule of events. To purchase tickets for Saturday's community breakfast or Sunday's barbecue dinner, call (818) 790-4289. Tickets will also be available at the events.

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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