“Happy Days” For Parade Theme Winner

This year’s parade theme winner is Dean Grinsfelder and wife Vicky Collison, who are pictured with sons (left to right) Matthew, David and Andrew.

By LAURA ABRUSCATO

A family project to come up with themes for the Palisades Fourth of July Parade has paid off for longtime Palisadians Dean Grinsfelder and Vicky Collison. Dean’s winning theme for the 2024 parade is “Happy Days in the Palisades.”

The parade theme encapsulates Dean and his families’ experience in the Palisades over the years.

“We could not be happier to be here,” says Dean, who has lived in the Highlands since 1989. “The rolling hills, the family community and non-ostentatious vibe. It’s similar to where I grew up.”

The Marin County native first came up to the Highlands with a friend, and after seeing the natural beauty, he thought it would be a great place to live. “I didn’t know this existed in L.A.”

He and Vicky married in 1992 and bought a home in the Highlands where they raised their family.

The couple have three sons all of whom attended Calvary Christian School from preschool to middle school. David, 26, graduated from PaliHi and UC Berkeley and is a model as well as a project manager at Market Development Group in New York. He’s also a regular contributor to the Palisadian-Post. Matthew, 24, a graduate of Loyola High School and Southern Methodist University is a real estate transaction analyst at Westwood Financial in Los Angeles. Andrew, 18, is a graduate of Pacifica Christian High School who will attend UCLA this fall.

The family starts their Palisades Fourth of July with running in either the 5K or 10K. In 2010, both Vicky and son David, 12 at the time, won their age category in the 5K.

“We love that morning,” says Vicki. “After the race you see so many people, it’s a great place to connect with people you haven’t seen.” They often have friends over to swim after the race and then go watch the parade.

Their sons have ridden in Kids on Bikes, as well as held banners for the Eagle Scouts and other groups. In the 2024 parade, as the parade theme winners, the couple will have the opportunity to ride on the fire truck along the parade route.

“I love the beautiful cars and gorgeous horses.” says Vicky, “and I always get a chuckle out of the Optimists.” Dean appreciates the small-town feel of Kids on Bikes.

Shortly after moving to the Palisades, Dean was visiting cousins in Dallas on the Fourth of July who had a small neighborhood parade. “I thought to myself, why don’t we have anything like this in Los Angeles?” He flew home later that day, and driving home from the airport to the Highlands he came across the Palisades Fourth of July Parade.

The family also watches the evening fireworks at Palisades High School or from the hills.

Growing up, Fourth of July was Dean’s favorite holiday, as he and his friends would have canoe races and set off fireworks along the Russian River in Northern California.

An Emmy-winning composer, Dean also has had his recording studio and offices in the Highlands since 2001, and the beauty of the area helps inspire his music: “If I’m thinking about it too much, it doesn’t really flow, if I get out of the way, it just happens,” he says of the music he writes regularly for film, television, advertising and video games for clients such as Warner Brothers and Disney.

Vicky works in real estate management and has been involved at Calvary Christian for many years as a school board member and deacon, and also is past president of the Palisades/Brentwood chapter of the National League of Young Men.

Dean has been an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 223, coached lacrosse and 21 seasons of AYSO soccer, and played piano in the Calvary Christian Band.

“It’s the happiest day of the year,” says Dean of the Fourth of July in Pacific Palisades. “You get to meet and catch up with everyone.”

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