Oil Town Parties Hard

Brea celebrates 100 with picnic, parade and lots of fun in the sun

By Joseph Kling

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The Wells Fargo Wagon rolls past with Brea city council members riding inside | Photo by Joseph Kling

As the first line of parade attractions made their way down Birch Street people began to stand up and cheer. The most impressive of those was the Laurel Elementary School float. They pulled out all the stops, creating a rocket with the slogan on the side reading, “ABOVE & BEYOND.” Everyone there had a sense of city pride instilled in him or her at that moment. Even the biggest grump in Brea would have found it impossible to not smile or even clap.

Months of hard work by three committees led up to this moment. This parade was specifically built to honor the rich history of Brea on its 100-year anniversary. Even though the official 100-year anniversary was in Februarythe parade and picnic had to be rescheduled to May 20th due to rain. More than 4,000 people attended the parade and picnic.

Every single man, woman, child, float, car or any other item or person had a direct connection with the city of Brea. More and more people flocked to the edge of the curb to watch friends, neighbors and family march past as a part of the parade. Some who didn’t know anyone in the parade simply came to have a good time and watch evidence of what a great city they helped form. One of the most “dangerous” attractions was the Brea hook and ladder fire truck. The fire truck had the entire Brea High School cheering squad perched on the top of the ladder. All of the cheerleaders had plastic smiles on their faces and white knuckles while holding on for dear life. The boy’s football team was walking in front of the fire truck and whenever the driver of the truck rang the siren the boys would jump a foot in the air.

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Residents wait for the parade to begin on Birch Street | Photo by Joseph Kling

Former mayor and co-chair of the Centennial Steering Committee, Beverly Perry, said that when the process began in January of 2016 there were a few things they knew they wanted right away. One of these things was the parade.

There were more than 110 parade attractions approved to march or drive in the parade. There were more than 1700 people in the parade. As the last parade attraction, the University of Southern California marching band, walked past the end of the parade route the Centennial picnic officially began. The parade route was exactly 1.2 miles long and at the end there was fresh water and 25-cent hot dogs waiting for them. 25-cent hotdogs and 15-cent cotton candy, priced at their 1917 value,were a huge hit. The great idea for this belonged to Pastor Doug Green of Brea Friends Church. According to Perry, Pastor Green pulled many businesses and churches together to gather donations of food and volunteers to help distribute the food. With the prices so low almost everyone was happy to wait in line for a hot dog that cost just a quarter of a dollar.

At the picnic lines were long but spirits were high. Everyone had a smile on their faces and even unruly toddlers couldn’t do anything to mess up this day. The heat only got worse as the day went on, reaching highs of 97 degrees. However the Little League All-Star game was not slowed at all and it began right on time. The men of honor were Brea boys, Charlie Hough and Randy Jones, both major league All-stars. Another historic moment in Brea baseball history occurred when the re-enactment of the Walter Johnson vs. Babe Ruth took place. The original game still goes down in Brea lore, even though the original game was a blowout with the Babe winning 12-1 over the hometown boy.

These festivities continued till 3:00 in the afternoon. There were more events than just the parade and the picnic. One of these was a real birthday party for Brea that was held on February 18. The three 100+ year old residents still living in Brea were honored and a  birthday cake was cut. There will also be a Brea Angel’s game that will take place on July 18th. The other events throughout the year are BreaFest, Brea Loves Art, the Centennial Gala and Tales from the Canyon: The Olinda Story. That way the party can last all year long.

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