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Parade winners honor legends of Petaluma

Petaluma Artist Henry Washer's float depicting a man wrestling a steer took top honors at the 2013 Butter & Egg Days Parade.

John OHara / For The Argus Courier
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:49 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 8:49 a.m.

More than 30,000 people poured into Petaluma's downtown from around the community and far beyond on Saturday to watch the city's biggest annual celebration of its agricultural heritage, the Butter & Egg Days Parade.

Facts

Hats off to parade winners

The Petaluma Butter & Egg Days Parade award winners are as follows.
— Henry Washer, Sweepstakes — Best Use of Theme
— Petaluma Argus-Courier, Helen Putnam Award for Historical Theme
— North Bridge Orthodontics, Judges Special Award
— Petaluma High School Vocational Ed, Float, Non-Commercial — First (Golden Hammer)
— Fun on the Farm, Float, Non-Commercial — Second
— Martial Arts USA, Float, Commercial — First
— Amys Kitchen, Float, Commercial — Second
— Lace House Linen Supply, Antique or Classic Car or Truck, Commercial — Second Place
— Exchange Bank, Antique or Classic Car or Truck, Commercial — First Place
— Petaluma Community Guild, Antique or Classic Car or Truck, Non-Commercial — Second Place
— Petaluma Historical Library & Museum, Antique or Classic Car or Truck, Non-Commercial — First Place
— Ballet Folklorico of Petaluma Paquiyollotzin & Dia de los Muertos, Costumed Marching Group, Non-Commercial — First
— Petaluma Panthers, Football & Cheer, Costumed Marching Group, Non-Commercial — Second
— Petaluma Fire Department, Fire Engine — First
— Lakeville Fire Department, Fire Engine — Second
— KZST, Novelty Specialty, Commercial — First
— Petaluma Pedal Cabs — Bicycle Billboards, Novelty Specialty, Commercial — Second
— Sunrise Senior Living of Petaluma, Novelty Specialty, Non-Commercial — First
— City of Petaluma Transit Department, Novelty Specialty, Non-Commercial — Second
— Cotati Accordion Festival, Other Band — Second
— Kala Brand Music, Other Band — First
— Marine Corps League Santa Rosa, Veterans Group — First
— Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 563, Veterans Group — Second
— Point Reyes National Seashore, Walking group with Animals — First
— Living Earth Structures, Mini Float, Non-Commercial — First
— American Red Cross, Mini Float, Non-Commercial — Second
— Brian's Comics, Costumed Marching Group, Commercial — First
— 101 Casino, Costumed Marching Group, Commercial — Second
— Wine Country Peruvian Paso Horse Club, Equestrian Group — First
— Wells Fargo Stage Coach, Equestrian Group — Second
— Wine Country Peruvian Paso Horse Club, Equestrian Group — First Pooper Scooper
— Novato Unified School District Elementary Band, Marching Band, Elementary — First
— Liberty & Wilson Combined Elementary Band, Marching Band, Elementary — Second
— Two Rock Union School Band, Marching Band, Elementary — Third
— Petaluma High School Marching Band, Marching Band, High School — First
— Casa Grande High School Band, Marching Band, High School — Second
— Petaluma Jr. High Band, Marching Band, Jr. High — First
— Kenilworth Jr. High Marching Band, Marching Band, Jr. High — Second
— Cruisin the Boulevard, Inc., Car Club — First

The parade itself, one of the largest in the region, went off with nary a hitch as an impressive 148 floats made their way downtown through a thick, cheering crowd.

The parade this year celebrated Petaluma's legends, past and present, so floats featured, among other things, tributes to the famous wrist wrestling competitions of the past, original members of the legendary Leghorns football team, former mayor Helen Putnam, movies filmed in town, cows, chickens and more. Newer legends included Petaluma Batman, riding in a custom-made Bat-Mobile, and the Petaluma National Little League champs.

Some of Petaluma's oldest businesses, such as Lace House Linen and Clover Stornetta, celebrated their long histories in town as well.

“I think the theme was really well celebrated,” said Marie McCusker, executive director of the Petaluma Downtown Association, which organizes the event with the help of a massive crew of volunteers — about 240 of them. “It allowed participants to really celebrate themselves or someone who is legendary in Petaluma,” she said, adding, “That's the whole objective. It's a historical parade, a story about Petaluma.”

A float by local artist Henry Washer took the top Sweepstakes honor for its creative depiction of legendary themes, including wrist wrestling and the dairy industry. He hand-crafted, from dock foam and paper mache, a nearly life-size, mobile sculpture of a man and a steer locked in a wrestling match.

He said he was inspired, among other things, by tales he heard growing up of young men drinking and going into fields to wrestle cattle.

All told, the movable sculpture took him about a month of full-time work to create.

The Petaluma Argus-Courier's float, carrying four members of the original Leghorns semi-professional football team, was another top honoree, receiving the Helen Putnam award for best use of historical theme.

North Bridge Orthodontics received the Judge's Special award for its float, “Peggy Sue Got Braces,” a tribute to one of many movies filmed in Petaluma. The Petaluma High School Vocational Ed class received the Golden Hammer award for the impressive level of construction that went into the float.

Another highlight was the Buffalo Billiards float, on which City Councilmember Gabe Kearney officiated a wedding ceremony as the parade's Good Eggs, John and Joetta Furrer, renewed their wedding vows.

“This community is remarkable in the way it steps up,” McCusker added of the participants' creativity and the enormous volunteer effort. The event drew big crowds from out of town, she said, with people coming from as far as Idaho, Michigan and New York to spend the weekend in Petaluma.

In addition to the parade, the day featured the popular cowchip throwing contest. Councilmember Chris Albertson took top honors in the VIP division, with Councilmember Mike Harris coming in second. New Police Chief Pat Williams beat out Fire Chief Larry Anderson in the chief's division.

Not to be outdone, a kids contest hosted by Petaluma Egg Farms drew 70 befeathered contestants from the infant and toddler set, all vying for the honors of Cutest Little Chick in Town. First place in that contest went to young siblings Declan and Daphne Widge.

The parade, which lasted about two hours, took place on a bright, sunny afternoon and was followed by festivities downtown.

“We had lots of happy people,” McCusker said.

Planning for the more than $100,000 2014 event will commence in September.

(Contact Jamie Hansen at jamie.hansen@arguscourier.com.)

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