Pageant of Light

October 31, 2002


As I have said before in this column, it doesn't take much for the

city to celebrate some little occasion or trifling event with a

parade on Main Street.

Before 1929, Main Street was lighted by gas streetlights, and each

one had to be lighted by hand each night. The city didn't mind

because it was getting the gas as a by-product from nearby oil wells


and it was dirt cheap -- we all know how the city likes to save a


But it was in 1929 that these gas lights had become antiquated,

and the pipes and fixtures were rusting away, so new electric lights

were installed on Main Street. You would have thought "how nice," and

then thought nothing more about it. But not our town.

To celebrate the new lights and let everybody know about them, the

Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce planned a Pageant of Light


The chamber met in July of 1929 at the Golden Bear Cafe for a

monthly meeting and picked Walter McMillan to chair the entire

program. An advertising committee composed of A.W. Frost, William

Gallienne, Ralph Turner (chair) and Jack Robertson was set up to

spread the word and to help McMillan.

This would not to be a small event and would see more than 400

participants. The committee picked Saturday, Aug. 17, 1929, as the big day.

Cars for the parade were to be decorated with at least 20 electric

lights each. This was done by three local electric shops -- Miller

Electric, Bales Electric and Smith Electric.

The Pageant of Light began at 2:30 p.m. with an exhibition of

horsemanship staged by 75 riders of the El Rodeo Riding Club. In the

late afternoon, the chamber held a huge barbecue dinner at the old

Huntington Beach ranch out on Yorktown Avenue and Main Street for the

riders. At 6:30 that evening, the Huntington Beach Municipal Band

treated the public with an hour of music at Orange Avenue and Main


By now it was dusk, and the Standard Oil Company's whistle

signaled for everyone to assemble at Triangle Park, at Main and

Acacia Avenue, for the start of the parade down Main Street.

The parade began with George Gelzer and Earl Shaffer riding on

their police motorcycles, followed by Huntington Beach Police Chief

Charles Stewart in Division A of the parade.

It had been planned to have Mayor Sam Bowen ride a horse at the

start of the parade, but instead he rode with his City Council in an

electrically lighted car.

After the chamber came the Huntington Beach Municipal Band led by

L.L. Gilmore. This was followed by Grecian dancers from Miss Burks'

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