VACAVILLE — Former Vacaville fire chief Bob Powell was the Vacaville Fiesta Days parade grand marshal in 1992.
Flash forward 22 years and he will be cruising Merchant Street once again along with nine other former grand marshals, and the current, Bob Meador, a longtime Vacaville resident and civic leader, in the 2014 parade.
It’s the first time they’ve all been brought together – and at 71, Powell might not be the oldest in age, but he represents the parade that occurred the longest time ago.
“It’s just always been a lot of fun to be involved in Fiesta Days,” he said.
He’s been involved in nearly every aspect since about the time he moved to Vacaville in 1963 and joined the Fire Department in 1964. Since then he’s done everything from ride on floats to committee involvement and on to entertainment chairman and general chairman.
“Every year it was a lot of fun to me,” he said. “I’ve never had a disappointing Fiesta Days even when it rained on us.”
Powell remembers the earlier days of the event, which began in 1957, when the parade went down Main Street and Buck Avenue. It was a time of lax regulations, he said, laughing.
“In the ’60s it was just a wild drink the beer, shoot the guns . . . very few regulations in terms that the city had,” he said. “I’m serious. People were in the parade and on the floats drinking beer and smoking and shoot blank guns in the air.”
He called the event a lot more refined these days.
Powell said the move to change the path of the parade several decades ago was a good move because Main Street was becoming a “real tight squeeze” with the crowds and entries. In all the years he’s been here, he said he’s only missed two parades and he’s had fun over the years introducing Fiesta Days to a new generation, his granddaughters.
The reunion plan was the idea of Steve Huddleston, the vice president of public affairs for NorthBay Healthcare, and is befitting the theme of this year’s event, Celebrating Memories of Fiesta Days. Huddleston said they were looking for a different way to get involved this year than in the past.
“When we looked at the list (of former grand marshals), we noticed two things – several of them have a connection to NorthBay and all the rest we looked at what they do in the community. That’s our mission, too – our focus is on doing things in our community.”
The following are participating in the parade at the time of publication:
Huddleston and his group worked with the volunteer nonprofit Fiesta Days organization, headed by General Chairman Ralph Berumen, to work out the details. They will be riding in convertibles provided by Vacaville GMC.
Berumen also remembers the yesteryears of Fiesta Days. His dad, Ralph Berumen Sr., was involved in the planning – and said he was tapped for involvement by Frances Murillo, the 2003 grand marshal.
“I got suckered in and I never left,” he said, laughing.
Fiesta Days runs Thursday through Monday and includes music, carnival rides, activities, tournaments and the parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Most of the events are in the Andrews Park area. For more information, and a complete schedule, go to www.fiestadays.org.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.