Thousands pour into Aptos for World's Shortest Parade

(Photos by Tarmo Hannula/LIFE)

The World’s Shortest Parade in Aptos lived up to its standard of drawing thousands of people, from babies to seniors, to the street — many with their dogs in tow — for a view of the action.

From Little League baseball teams and realty groups, to fire engines, elected officials and modern dance troupes, the parade sent 102 different groups along Soquel Drive under cloudy skies.

With nine California Highway Patrol officers lending a hand in traffic control and in shutting down a short section of Soquel Drive, the festive event proved to have a greater showing of entries than any mid-week Fourth of July parade, said Karen Hibble, co-executive director of the Aptos Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a great showing for being in the middle of the week,” Hibble said. “I get the sense that people really need something like this, something so upbeat and positive, considering what’s going on in the world.”

Though U.S. Army veteran John Longwell of Aptos usually rides in a Jeep in the parade, this year he chose to stand in the sidelines dressed in his pristine Army uniform.

When asked about the parade, he said, “It’s iconic for Aptos and the surrounding communities. The Watsonville Band is the leader. I really like the ‘50s cars and the cheerleaders.”

Longwell said he served in Vietnam in 1969 in the First Infantry and served as a battalion surgeon.

Carolee Burrows, with her ukulele in hand, said she was excited to march for her 10th year in a row with the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz.

“I do this because it’s so fun,” she said. “You can’t get much better than this. I love the crowd. They sing along with us and cheer us on. It’s wonderful.”

Burrows said the club has 3,000 members worldwide and has been around about 15 years.

Denise Cooke said she planned to walk a Great Pyrenees dog, along with scores of others who also had the same kind of dog, in the parade.

“The parade is so small-town but big,” Cooke said. “Everybody is so nice and happy to be here. This is the epitome of Aptos.”


Thomas Payne and John Ide prepare to march in the parade in Aptos.


The Coffis Brothers & Mountain Band deliver their blend of live music to the crowds. 


Seniors from Aegis of Aptos are wheeled along the parade route thanks to help from staff.


Members of the dance group, Worldanz, give the crowd a sample of their moves. 

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