By LOLA COFFEY
A regular attendee with his family at the Pacific Palisades Fourth of July Parade, John Abruscato is now also the winner of this year’s parade theme contest with his entry: “Red, White and Blue in 2022.”
“My wife Laura, a daily reader of Circling the News, shared with me that the parade committee was looking for a theme. I quickly came up with ‘Red, White and Blue in 2022’ which I thought had a nice rhyme to it.”
John learned about the annual parade through Laura, a writer for various Palisades publications. “I look forward to it every year,” he says, noting that his favorites include Pasadena Scottish Pipes and Drums and the horses.
“I enjoy seeing the old, well-maintained cars and who is riding in them, particularly local politicians,” says John, who himself drives a near-classic 1985 Toyota Celica Supra with the original engine and interior and 148,000 miles.
Other favorites are local entrants like the Patriotic Pups, Palisades Charter High School football players and PPBA baseball players throwing out candy, says John, who was a Little League utility player growing up in Elmont, New York and the San Fernando Valley.
“I think the parade is very patriotic and I like seeing how it’s well-attended,” says John, a West L.A. resident. “We are always running late to the parade looking for parking. One of these years I hope to arrive early enough to see the skydivers jump from the plane and land on Sunset.”
John grew up in Queens and Long Island until age 8. At that time, his father, a sales executive for Columbia Pictures Television, was transferred to Los Angeles and the family settled in Tarzana. He graduated from Taft High School and Cal State University Northridge.
His earliest memory of the Fourth of July was when his father lit and allowed him to hold a sparkler. Fourth of July growing up included barbecues with friends and watching fireworks in the Valley.
John, a personnel analyst for the City of L.A., works with the Operations and Maintenance division of 1,000-plus employees at Los Angeles World Airports.
He and Laura have two children. Jared will be a senior at PaliHi and is a member of their Western League-winning track team. Lily will be a seventh grader at The Archer School for Girls where she participates in the dance program. In 2018, Lily rode her decorated bike with Kids on Bikes and she marched in 2019 along with members of Troop 6445 and other local Girl Scout troops.
Since both their children attended Palisades Elementary School over a span of 11 years, and Jared attended Paul Revere Middle School, the family always enjoys seeing friends and classmates along the parade route and marching in the parade.
The Abruscatos have also been regulars at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when visiting family in New York City. “We take the subway or a taxi to 72nd and Central Park West to get as close as we can to the parade,” John says. Bystanders are allowed to stand about 250 feet away from the parade. “With the balloons being so high, we can see them without obstruction, but to see the floats go by we might have to hop on scaffolding by the Dakota building. I put the kids on my shoulders when they were younger,” he recalls.
“With the Palisades parade you’re so much closer and it’s exciting to see the costumes and faces of the participants.”
The family also enjoys watching fireworks around the Westside. “We used to live on the third floor so could see several sets of L.A. fireworks from the western-facing balcony, then would run to the other side to watch fireworks in other parts of the city from the eastern-facing balcony.”
John’s favorite parade viewing spot is somewhere in the shade, either with friends along the parade route or near the corner of Via de la Paz and Antioch. “I enjoy the announcing by the emcees there, Sue Pascoe and Manfred Hofer. They do a very good job.”
This year the family plans to arrive early, and as parade theme winner, John and his family get to sit in the VIP bleachers in front of Ralphs. “I’m looking forward to a comfortable, unobstructed view when watching the parade,” he says.