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Santa Rosa Rose Parade celebrates heroes and helpers

  • The Rincon Valley Middle School marching band makes its way though Saturday's Rose Parade along 4th Street in Santa Rosa, May 17, 2014. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa's annual Luther Burbank Rose Parade drew thousands of people Saturday, lining an eight-block stretch of the downtown in a tradition stretching back 120 years.

School marching bands, prancing horses, sequined rodeo queens, clowns, ghouls and cartwheeling gymnasts were part of the enduring spectacle that dates back to 1894.

This year's parade theme, "Heroes and Helpers" — to honor people who have helped make a difference in the community — translated to many of the participants donning capes, superhero masks and costumes.

120th Luther Burbank Rose Parade

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A passing band was as likely to play "Batman," or "Hogan's Heroes" as it was to strike up "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"It's fantastic. A fun way for kids to feel part of town and part of the parade," said Justin Salinger, a member of the Franklin Park Co-op Preschool contingent who was marching down E Street, with his daughter Kennedy, 3?.

"She's having a great time," he said of his princess-garbed daughter, who was absorbed in waving to the crowd.

"She thinks she's the center of the world right now," he said.

Also feeling appreciated was one of the grand marshals, Paul Hoffman, an injured Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Marine staff sergeant who served in the Army National Guard, too.

"I'm honored to be asked," he said as he rode in a Humvee dressed in his Army uniform. "I'm letting people know the Guard is out there serving."

Hoffman said the support he felt Saturday was overwhelming: "It's nice to see everyone saying 'thank you' to all of the military and former military members."


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