Friday, May 15, 2020

Distance, Mindfulness Among Changes To Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

By Ingomar Schoenborn, Quilt staff


It wouldn’t be the last Monday of May in the west San Fernando Valley without the parade honoring those who’ve died while serving in the U.S. armed forces — but due to this year’s feisty coronavirus, staging the popular procession in a mindful way has given local officials a unique set of problems.

The Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade in happier, less pandemic-y times. Staff photo.
“The Memorial Day Parade is Canoga Park’s biggest annual event and draws enormous crowds,” says Murla Havemeyer, Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council’s Chairperson of Parade Organizement. “Ordinarily that's great, but not with this COVID-19 thing trending. So rather than cancel the parade, we decided to figure a way to accommodate spectators and participants alike in a safe, responsible way — while being mindful.”
Murla Havemeyer, CPFNC's
Head of Parade Organizement

The solution? Space the crowds out. The parade has traditionally run along Sherman Way from Owensmouth Avenue to Mason Avenue for a total of 1.25 miles with crowds four and five people deep lining both sides of the street for its entire length. This year, however, to properly socially distance the estimated 30,000 spectators who are likely to attend, the parade route will extend eastward for an approximately fifteen additional miles to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

“We’ve had crews out this week marking off six-foot intervals and taping down approved viewing spaces on the sidewalks from here into Winnetka, Reseda, Lake Balboa, Van Nuys, Valley Glen, North Hollywood, all the way into Burbank. We’re mindful of the fact that Memorial Day is less than two weeks away but anticipate they should be done in time for the parade on Monday, May 25.”

Those hoping to show their patriotism by attending need only find an unoccupied Individual Parade Enviewment Location and stand directly on it while the parade files by. 
Taped directly to the sidewalk six feet apart, these Parade Enviewment mats will help spectators
across the San Fernando Valley to enjoy the parade while maintaining crucial social distancing.
Simply find a vacant mat and stand directly on it as the Memorial Day parade passes. Staff photo.
There have been changes for those participating in the parade as well, says Havemeyer.

“Since we’ll be crawling along at a little over two miles an hour across the entire length of the valley, [parade vehicle] drivers need to be mindful and prepare for a seven hour trip. That means a full tank of gas and an empty Big Gulp cup in the seat next to you in case you need it.” 

A brief pitstop is scheduled at the Hazeltine ARCO in Van Nuys, notes Havemeyer, to accommodate antique cars with smaller tanks or particularly inefficient gas mileage, and those who “can’t hold it any longer.” 

This clean, friendly ARCO station in Van Nuys marks the halfway point in this year's parade — and a welcome
"pit-stop" for those needing to gas up a parade vehicle, urinate — or even defecate.  Photo credit: Google Maps.
Anyone without a Big Gulp cup who doesn’t think they’ll make it to that halfway point are are advised to wear suitable protective undergarments “especially if you’re riding as a guest in a classic car with vintage fabric seats. Our insurance only covers so much.”

Parade participants marching on foot are advised to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to traverse the entire route. “We really want to be mindful about putting on a good show for the crowds from here to Burbank so we’ve given the Pierce College Winnetka ROTC Drill Team the go-ahead to use their bayonets to prod along anyone who starts to lag behind.”

Horses, like this one from the 2015 parade, will be part of this year's event, but
only if horse and passenger are both mindful of going the distance. Staff photo.
Dancing horses, always a popular element of the festivities, will be included this year as well. Vaqueros have been asked to include only their most healthy animals that have the stamina to gaily prance and frolic for the entirety of the 16+ mile distance. “We don’t want a ‘Santa Anita racetrack situation’ taking place in the middle of Sherman Way,” says Havemeyer.  “We’re trying to be especially mindful of any kids watching.”
Jason Valsera, teen tubadour.
Music is a big part of any good parade and the organizement committee has been mindful to make sure to include plenty of marching bands this year as always — with specific modifications.

Stoney Point High School senior Jason Valsera says he’s mindful of the challenges this year’s parade brings. “We’re doing our best. But now that we have to march single file and the band will be stretched out over 250 yards, we need to play a lot louder so we’re all on the same measure.  

“And with the muffling from that N-95 tuba mask I’m required to put on my instrument, that’s not going to be easy.”

Correction: Seems the parade has been canceled this year. We regret the error.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Still No Date Set For Canoga Park Barbershops To Remove Brown Paper From Windows, Let Customers In Through Front Door Again And Pretend To Reopen

By Blythe Moorcroft, Quilt staff


Despite LA County officials announcing the allowment of the reopenization of some retail shops as soon as Friday, barbers across Canoga Park are frustrated by the lack of an official date to act like they’re suddenly reopening.

“We’d love to pull that paper off our windows and be able to stop whispering in case anyone’s walking by,” says DeShawn Gillard of Trimz, Clipz ‘n’ Cutz Barberz on Sherman Way. “And by that I mean, of course we’ve been closed. I myself have been, uh, at home, taking a Master Class on acting taught by, oh, Dame Helen Mirren to pass the time, let’s say. I most certainly have not been here every day unlocking the door for customers who knock three times, then two times, then three times again, 10 am to 6 pm. 

“Again, that’s three times, then two, then three.”

Sign in a window of one of the thousands of barber shops located throughout Canoga Park that have
been closed since March due to COVID-19 and patiently await the go-ahead to reopen.  Staff photo.
Bernice Solverson of Canoga Park’s Chamber of Commerce, says that with nine out of every ten businesses in Canoga Park operating as a barber shop, and entire blocks of Sherman Way storefronts being comprised of nothing but barber shops, “the barber shop industry is as important economically to 21st century Canoga Park as the aerospace industry was to 1960s Canoga Park.”  

She estimates that of the nearly 43,000 people living in Canoga Park, over 38,000 of them own local barbershops or make their living as barbers, or in a barber-adjacent field, such as hair-sweeping, organizing racks of old magazines, or more recently, taping large pieces of brown kraft paper to store windows. “We need to let these people pretend to get back to work!” says Solverson.

Ernesto Almazan of Homiez ‘n’ Thugz Haircutterz agrees, “Man, this last month and a half has been a pain in the ass— getting the word out, answering the phone in code, deciding if they’re cool, and making sure they come in through the back! Sheesh!

“...Eh, that is to say, we’ve all been closed, sitting at home bingeing, oh, ‘Tiger King’ or some shit.”