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Ally Mills named grand marshal of Ojai Independence Day Parade

web provided Ally Mills

Photo by Colleen McDougal

2022 Ojai Independence Day parade grand marshal Ally Mills and “Wilbur,” the mobile shower she helped acquire for Ojai Valley Family Shelter.

 

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News senior reporter

Lifelong Ojai resident Ally Mills has been named grand marshal of the 2022 Ojai Independence Day Parade.

In selecting a grand marshal, organizers of the event look for “local residents who give back to the community” said Kristi Adejumo, president of the nonprofit Ojai Independence Day Committee.

The five-member, all-volunteer committee voted unanimously to select Mills for the honor, thanks to her service with Ojai Valley Family Shelter and her work obtaining a new mobile shower. “We wanted to let her know we appreciate the service she’s giving to the homeless, who don’t always have a voice in our community,” Adejumo said.

Mills, in fact, was behind the wheel of the new mobile shower in the 2021 parade and pitched in to help event organizers when last-minute problems cropped up, according to Adejumo. “Just a phenomenal person, always willing to go above and beyond and usually goes unrecognized,” she said.

This July 4, Mills will be waving to the crowd from the passenger seat of a classic car, as the parade makes its way up Ojai Avenue. “When I called to tell her, she was like, ‘Seriously? What?’ And she said it like 10 times,” Adejumo told the Ojai Valley News, where Mills works as circulation manager.

“It was a shock. It was mind-blowing,” Mills said in reaction to the news. “It’s such an honor.”

The theme of this year’s parade is “America’s Birthday Party,” and Adejumo anticipates entries decorated with colorful balloons and streamers. “We thought it would be something that everybody could do,” she said.

Last year’s grand marshal, Connie Biggers, was also grand marshal of the 2020 parade, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Being named for the honor two years in a row was unprecedented, according to Adejumo.

The parade and fireworks show are not city-sponsored events, and to cover expenses, the committee needs to raise $56,000 in tax-deductible donations. Costs have gone up due to a high demand for fireworks, Adejumo said.

In the early 1960s, Adejumo’s grandmother and some of her friends organized the first Ojai Independence Day Parade. “It’s definitely a family tradition,” she said, adding that last year’s parade was featured in the New York Times.

Organizers of Ojai’s Fourth of July celebration are seeking volunteers and have scheduled the next recruitment meeting for March 5 at 10 a.m., in the clubhouse at 950 Woodland Ave. in Mira Monte.

Parade entry applications are due by June 9.

Last year saw the largest-ever attendance at the fireworks show at Ojai Valley Community Stadium, according to Adejumo. “We were so happy with the turnout last year and I think people just appreciated being able to be out and be somewhat normal,” she said. “We’re looking forward to having another spectacular event.”

For more information on Ojai’s Independence Day activities, visit: https://www.4thofjulyinojai.com.

 

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