QUARTZ HILL — Making its comeback after a four-year hiatus, the 2019 Almond Blossom Fes­tival and Quartz Hill Ele­mentary Pet Parade marched down 50th Street West on Saturday morning to kick off the city’s 70th annual Almond Blossom Festival over the weekend.

This year’s theme of “Look­­ing Back, Moving For­ward” recognized the event’s history as well as the revitalization of its spon­­sor, the Quartz Hill Cham­­ber of Commerce.

The festival is still the lar­gest admission-free event of its kind in the Val­­ley, Chamber Secretary Susan Duncan said.

Organizers credit the aid of Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kath­ryn Barger in sec­ur­ing the parade route down the county road.

“We’ve been wanting to bring back the parade for a long time now,” Duncan said. “Supervisor Barger and her local field deputies made all of this possible.”

In 1950, Jane Pinheiro and Byron Glenn noticed the almond trees blooming in Quartz Hill and thought that a festival should take place during that time. They approached the newly founded Quartz Hill Cham­ber of Commerce and it was decided to institute a festival. At the initial festival there were more than 20,000 almond trees in bloom and more than 30,000 visitors who shared in the event. The Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce has carried this tradition forward the last 70 years.

One of the most beloved traditions of this event has always been the Pet Par­ade. Frances Lane, a mem­ber of one of the Val­ley’s founding families, re­mem­bers her niece and her best friend decorating their pet goat Billy Joe for the parade as the goat followed them along the parade route.

Quartz Hill Elementary, in partnership with the Cham­ber, has kept this trad­ition going.

Angela Meyers, resident and volunteer of Quartz Hill Elementary’s Parent Teach­er Association, said the school has been helping with the Pet Parade for years.

“They’re excited to bring it back this year,” Meyers said. “It’s my first time out here so I’m excited to see what will come through here.”

Four-legged animals and their owners made their way down the parade path ending at West Avenue L-8.

Three-year-old Bronson Lane, a fifth generation Quartz Hill resident and third generation to par­ticipate in the Pet Parade, rode on his pony Princess.

“The Pet Parade is cute,” Quartz Hill resident Kath­leen Vaughn said, who was sup­porting her son walking in the parade.

Betty Ermey, daughter of “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey, acted as the parade’s grand marshal.

R. Lee Ermey, a real-life Mar­ine drill instructor, actor, military ambassador and longtime resident of the Antelope Valley, also was well known for his char­it­able work in sup­port of the Marine Corps, mil­i­tary programs, vet­er­ans and others.

More than 15 entries par­aded down the Quartz Hill streets, including fire and patrol vehicles, classic cars and community queens.

Sirens sounded of Quartz Hill’s own Engine and Squad 84, joined by Truck 33 from the city of Lan­caster.

The Antelope Valley Re­gional Car Club drove down the parade route. Its mission is to pre­serve, enjoy and share the her­it­age of antique auto­mo­biles.

An AV-based nonprofit or­ganization that raises sup­port and awareness for vet­erans organizations, Bomb­shell Betty’s, rode with the parade.

The High Desert Cruis­ers, Gramma Chelle’s Kit­chen in a purple food trail­er, the Quartz Hill Garden Center and the Quartz Hill Karate Studio all paraded down the street.

Jeff Barton, whose daugh­ter was marching with the Quartz Hill Kar­ate Studio, said the parade is great for the small-town com­munity. “It needs to come back every year,” he said.

Closing the parade was the Queens Courts from An­tel­ope Acres, Rancho Vista, Mojave, Edwards Air Force Base and Quartz Hill.

Palmdale resident Pilar Perez said she was excited for the parade to make its re­turn this year and thinks the community should offer more events like this.

“The community is so small here; the parade is a chance to meet other peop­le and come together,” she said. “We need more in­volve­ment, especially for the children, but I really like what I’m seeing here today.”

Chamber Director Beth Martinez said she loves to see that the parade is returning.

Altogether the parade last­ed 30 minutes and hopes to grow in the years to come.

“The community support is greatly appreciated,” Mar­tinez said, “We look for­ward to many more.”

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