SIMI VALLEY DAYS SET TO START COMMUNITY FESTIVAL INCLUDES PARADE, RIDES, BARN DANCE.
Hundreds of people are expected to line Los Angeles Avenue on Saturday for the Simi Valley Days Parade, a kind of giant block party and pep rally where local citizens are both the stars and the spectators.
``I've lived in Simi my whole life,'' said Kelly Cherrier, the assistant cheerleading coach at Simi Valley High School, where cheerleaders have been practicing for the parade. ``The parade brings the whole community together. It's really important in Simi Valley Days, and I'm really glad we're going to be a part of it this year.''
Simi Valley Days festivities run this year from Wednesday through Sunday, including the annual horse show, family picnic, battle of the bands and carnival. The parade will feature floats, marching bands, horses and classic cars.
Becky Herrera, owner of CheerForce, an all-star competitive cheer program in Simi Valley, is also gearing up for the parade with her students, who come from Ojai to Pasadena and range in age from 3 to 31.
``All of the age groups will be there,'' she said. ``Some yell cheers from flatbed trucks, and the teenagers will be on the street tumbling, doing handsprings and backflips and throwing people up in the air.''
Herrera said members of her group have participated in the parade for years.
``We love to do it,'' she said. ``The kids love it. The crowds go crazy. It's pretty much the first chance of the (school) year to perform.''
She said she's anticipating having about 200 people participate from her group, adding, ``We're a big unit going down the road. You can't miss us.''
Funds raised at the various Simi Valley Days events will benefit more than 40 local charities and community organizations, including youth, senior citizen and athletic groups, schools, food banks and programs to help victims of cancer and heart disease.
This year's theme is ``Let the Games Begin,'' with the event focusing on youth sports -- and the cheerleaders fitting right in.
There are 63 members of the freshmen, junior varsity and varsity cheerleading squads at Simi Valley High School this year, Cherrier said.
``When I heard that the parade was coming up, I approached the coach and said, `We've got to do this,''' she said. ``It's a lot of fun.''
Simi Valley Days began as an outgrowth of Pioneer Days, which had been held in town since 1933, originally as a gathering for residents of what was then an agricultural community. The event still features a barn dance, rodeo and other old-time western attractions.
Last year, about 20,000 people attended over the five-day period, and officials are hoping for 25,000 this year.
It's expected to be the last year Simi Valley Days can be held on the 16 acres on the southeast corner of First Street and Madera Road, which provides parking for thousands of cars, along with the festival tents and carnival rides.
Daniel Sternberg, director of instrumental music at Simi Valley High School, said the school's marching band will be led by an award-winning drum major, Erich Drossel, who also marched in a London New Year's Day parade this year.
Drossel, a senior, won an outstanding drum major award at the Granada Hills High School field tournament in fall 2005.
``The Simi Valley marching band has been involved in the Simi Valley Days Parade for years,'' Sternberg said. ``We do it as a tradition. It's a great way to showcase our band early in the school year.'' He said the parade gives the students a chance to be seen by people in the community who don't often get a chance to see their talent. ``Everyone loves it,'' Sternberg said. ``It's really a broader audience than we get from our school shows.''
2 photos, box
(1) Coach Carlos Norona helps Katie Landtiser, 8, as she attempts a difficult position at Cheer Force. Cheerleaders from the gym will be out in force for the Simi Valley Days parade.
(2) Young cheerleaders in training work through a routine at Cheer Force in Simi Valley. Their training should pay off in their appearance in the upcoming Simi Valley Days parade.
John McCoy/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 10, 2006|
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