Borrego Days Soars Again


Last updated 1/23/2020 at 9:50am

Garett Wood

Not only was the 2019 54th Annual Borrego Days Desert Festival & Parade a resounding success, but also the Chamber of Commerce saved between $25 – 50 thousand dollars in expenses by using in-house expertise and an all-volunteer force. Our well-deserved reputation therefore remains intact as a community where volunteerism thrives. Under the leadership of this year's Borrego Days co-chairs, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Valeen Szabo and Secretary Debbie Woollet – many leaders headed up the all-volunteer force, including Parade organizations by Kasey Simrock and Maggie Walters, along with adult and student volunteers thanks to Martha Deichler.

When all was said and done, the scaling down of Borrego Days 2019 did not seem to depress the enjoyment of thousands of visitors and residents alike. Events and activities were scheduled and timed so as to ensure

a memorable ride for Parade entrants and the throng of onlookers down Palm Canyon Drive, provide food where folks were hungry, a variety of outstanding music and singers, games and rides where kids had a blast (particularly when on a treasure hunt for stamps on a map to later acquire pirate booty), and venues for chit-chat and beverage consumption where the adults could sit back and enjoy themselves.

Remarking on the success of the scaled down event, Woollet said, "This year's Borrego Days Desert Festival was truly a community event. Many folks gave of their time, talent, energy and resources to make it all come together," she said. "It is proof once again of the great things that can happen when Borregans all work together. Huge thanks to all who helped make our 54th Borrego Days great."

To start off the weekend, folks were filling their stomachs with the delicious breakfast at the Rotary Sponsored Pancake breakfast Friday Oct. 19, held at Coldwell Banker. Food was cooked up at the hands of Borrego Springs Unified School District Director of Food Services Cathy Paredes.

Later that night, volunteers and VIP's were treated to a welcome reception at Christmas Circle, with music by the Smith Mountain Boys Band providing the entertainment. Opening the parade the next morning was the Borrego Springs Elementary School students singing the National Anthem.

Then all eyes were up to the sky for the annual flyover, highlighted by four vintage bi-planes in bright colors – red, white, blue, and yellow – in close flying formation low in the clear blue skies above. Participating in the flyover, as they have done for many years was Rick Fordem and the Borrego Air Ranch, who donated their time and flight expenses for the event.

Borrego Springs American Legion Post 853 color guard presented the flags with the grand appearance of "The Beast," the Legion's 1944 Scout Car. The Beast was brought to life last summer thanks to the hard work and efforts of Tito Molina and his crew at Tito's Auto Care. Parade Grand Marshal San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond and wife Kerri, Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Sylvana Meeks, Volunteer of the Year Judy Coyle, and Honorary Mayor Andy Macuga all waved and smiled to the crowd from their VIP cars, and the folks waved back enthusiastically.

Many of the parade entries followed the theme of this year's parade, "Bloom in Borrego," with colorful and exuberant floats from the California State Parks to the BSUSD, all were in the spirit. Our local Sexton boys showed off all their awards, while a contingent of golf carts demonstrated both maneuverability and effective aim with their squirt guns sprinkling the laughing and cheering crowd of spectators. Then there were the high school marching bands, where Holtville and Brawley competed for trophies for Best Music and Outstanding Spirit.

The Pirates of the Salton Sea, who looked menacing, proved to be a crowd favorite yet again, as they strolled down interacting with all the locals and visitors alike. A great surprise were the Ballet Folklorico Dancers in their traditional Mexican costumes who enthralled all who watched. As a finale came our newly-crowned 2019 Miss Borrego Danielle Del Bono and her court looking very glamorous on their float, sponsored by the Rotary Club.

Simrock and Walters worked closely together to make sure the parade ran smoothly. "We spent many lunches and back/forth emails preparing for the event, squeezing in time for the community, all the while we both worked our everyday full-time jobs," Simrock said. "The monthly meetings with the volunteers were fun, quick and full of creative ideas – it was amazing to not only to see faces I had not seen during the long, hot summer but also to be a part of a wonderful adventure."

"Car Nation" and its contingent of 19 vintage autos, including Henry the Truck were on display at The

Mall for the first time this year, after moving from the Circle to give more space for the other activities

and give visitors a chance to explore all the shops. Also at The Mall, after passing through sponsor Borrego Outfitters to get to it, was the popular "Pints 4 the Park," organized by the Anza-Borrego Foundation, proceeds going toward keeping our 600,000 acre park great.

Following the Parade, Borrego Days activities at Christmas Circle went exceptionally well, with hundreds of visitors and kids looking like they were having a great time. The crowd was overflowing on Saturday, but Sunday had just a bit fewer than usual.

There was a variety of delicious food choices, from corn on the cob with butter and spices at one food stand, to smoothies and other delectable food items by Chef Vincent Cavelli from De Anza Country Club. There was one unnamed visitor who actually complained of the lack of hamburgers on any of the menus, but his critique fell on deaf ears. A booth set up by SDG&E attracted those needing info on our MicroGrid and what's available, or coming, as far as options for home energy usage plans, graciously supplied by Deborah Newell with backup from Joe Giordano from media communications.

Full article in the Oct. 31 issue of the Borrego Sun.

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