LV has had some memorable 4ths

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By Pat Judkins Leader Correspondent
Lucerne Valley has always liked to celebrate and have a good time, but until 1970, this didn't always happen on July 4. Sometimes residents of decades past would take the cooler route, and observe Lucerne Valley Days or something similar in the fall when temperatures were not 106 degrees.
For 32 consecutive years, however, the Lucerne Valley Chamber of Commerce has held Independence Day celebrations on an annual basis. It started holding these celebrations even earlier, in 1959, three years after the chamber formed.
For 25 years, the Roadrunners, a division of the local Chamber of Commerce, has also been involved. The Roadrunners have spearheaded the drive for the annual fireworks spectacular that culminates at dark following the 4th of July activities the Chamber organized.
Before the Fourth of July became such a big deal, Lucerne Valley Days were the main event in Lucerne Valley. Held in the fall, it became more and more elaborate over the years.
Gobar's Raising the Dust tells us "the community really went all out for up-to-date entertainment in 1945." Gobar said they "imported" Indian dancers, installed loudspeakers, and hung huge banners across Highway 18 at Box S. However, it was reported that "the law made (them) remove the banners as soon as they heard about it."
The days grew from one to three days of reveling. The work began weeks before the actual holiday - which was September 9 in 1945. That was also Mrs. Goulding's birthday.
The Box S Ranch was the center of all the festivities for many years, and so it was after much deliberation among newcomers, in 1945.
Box S had the shade trees, and corrals used when featuring calf roping that year. A grandstand was built and a booth was constructed for the soft drinks.
The event barely came out in the black after the hiring of entertainers, among them a group of professional Indian dancers from Hollywood that, it was said, had to have space for their tepees close to restrooms and running water, as well as a place to get their meals. Huge banners, removed by Victorville law enforcement, had to be returned to Los Angeles and the rental paid.
In 1958 the Lucerne Valley Chamber of Commerce with its president, the Rev. Charles Coon, planned an all-day July 4 picnic and sack races to be held at Midway School. Everyone brought food for their family plus some to share.
Lemonade and watermelon were free, as was a Walt Disney film and cartoon - followed by square dancing.
That year the activities began to be less homespun and pioneer style and became more western. Folks wore Levis, fancy boots, Stetsons, and grew beards.
"One didn't have to worry about the cost or about having to shell out quarters and dimes to the young fry, because there was nothing for sale except friendliness and good will and relaxation," Gobar said of the earlier celebrations. "No one would care to go back to the days when there were no television, radio, good roads, and other things that make life out here more pleasant and comfortable."
"These blessings did not rob us of the intangibles we regained in 1958 at Midway Park, when everyone found he was putting something of himself into making this day memorable."
In 1970, the year many of today's Forth of July traditions were first organized, a multi-day celebration in fall was still observed in Lucerne Valley. The Chamber of Commerce Wells Fargo Days on October 24 and 25 the year, in addition to the newly improved Independence Day festivities.
In 1976, the Chamber put on the biggest celebration ever, a Bicentennial "Happy Birthday" parade and festivities. The festivities lasted three days that year.
The "Time Step" float entered by Honorary Mayor Jim Johnson and his wife, Darlene, and co-sponsored by the Lucerne Valley Chamber of Commerce, won the Theme Trophy in the local parade on July 3. The following day the float was entered in the San Bernardino County Veterans Parade, and won the Sweepstakes Trophy. The following week, the Time Step won the best Theme trophy and first place in the Apple Valley Pow-wow Parade.
"Lucerne Valley deserves some county-wide recognition for it's enthusiasm and participation in the full three day Bicentennial Celebration held here, and we all considered it an honor to represent Lucerne Valley in San Bernardino." Darlene Johnson said.
As still is the case in Lucerne Valley, many volunteers put endless hours of time and talent into this undertaking. The Johnson's designed and built the float, and it was said that all the children riding on it really made it come alive.
The Time Step depicted the steps in time from George Washington to Gerald Ford, from the colonies and the birth of the Spirit of '76 to placing our flag on the moon, and to the peace found in Lucerne Valley.
Youngsters wore costumes designed and made by their mothers, and held signs that told the story.
Some of the youngsters that day included Dean Pederson who portrayed Gerald Ford. The Spirit of '76 drummer was Ed Rader, flag bearers were Paul and Renata Becker, David Turner was an astronaut, and Sharon Turner played the flute.
Bill Escher drove his one-ton flatbed truck, pulling the 22-foot float.
In 1989, Pastor Allen Stanfield spearheaded a July 4th reunion of former residents, most of whom attended Midway School.
Among them were at least three children of Rosa Koehly, who had been the postmaster back in 1912, when Lucerne Valley first celebrated the Forth of July. They were Helene Koehly Wood, Lorraine Koehly Knowlton, and Marguerite Koehly Coates.
Several former teachers also attended. One of them, Ethel Windchanz, was the Grand Marshal of the July 4th Parade that year.
The reunion was well attended, and several functions were held at Midway School in honor of those who once attended.
Many Lucerne Valley/Midway alumni either rode a float or followed on foot in the 1989 Independence Day Parade. In addition to the many folks that traveled a distance to their hometown, many residents who attended Midway School also participated; people like Troy and Betty Reed, other members of the Donaldson family, the Delperdang family, the Regensburgs, John Russell, the Barnett and Veale family, Dick and Ethel Owen, and the Stanfields.
Reprinted with permission of The Leader Publication, High Desert Publishing Company
Published June 13, 2001
Webmasters note: I am proud to mention my son, Steven Rodrigue, at age 5 was selected to ride in a car with Tonya Carloni in the July 4, 1989 parade because he was born on July 4th. We had not even lived here for a year when we were overwhelmed with this community's love and support. He is now one of our community's best computer technicians working at Sunrise Computing in town.

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