Planada celebrates community during annual parade

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comMay 11, 2014 

— Hundreds of people lined the street near Houlihan Park on Saturday to watch the parade pass by on a day meant to celebrate the community.

Planada Community Day is a day of food, fellowship and celebration that’s about 80 years old.

The community of about 4,500 is a close-knit group of people, according to many at the fair.

Elida Angel, 58, said she looks forward to the celebration every year, because it is a reunion, is always fun and offers good barbecue.

“You’ll probably meet friends you graduated with,” she said.

Angel staked out a good spot early to watch the parade with her 2-year-old granddaughter, Ema.

The parade entries included live music, lowriders, dancers, children in costumes and men on horseback.

One horseback rider, Juan Vazquez, said he remembers growing up in Planada and working in the fields with his parents.

The 65-year-old is retired from teaching at California State University, Stanislaus, and lives in Merced.

He said he enjoys being able to come back to Planada and participate in something positive for youngsters.

Several booths at the park, where the parade ended, offered health and educational services, and others sold crafts or food.

The parade’s grand marshal was Emma Cervantes, 75, of Planada.

Cervantes is credited with chronicling many events in Planada in her photo albums and journals.

She painted the first logo of Planada Elementary School’s tiger mascot.

Cervantes said she moved to Planada from Glendale, Ariz., when she was 20. At first, she wasn’t sure she liked the little community, but grew to love it. “It’s like a big family,” she said.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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