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Celebrating Azusa

by Kimberly Rios ’13

Azusa, Calif- On Saturday, October 8, 2011, Azusa residents and APU students, faculty, and staff lined San Gabriel Avenue for blocks, cheering for their families, friends, and community as they watched the Azusa Golden Days Parade. This year’s parade, “Celebrating the 1950s,” showcased a beautiful 40-classic car display and featured Brenton Wood, a well-known singer in the ’50s, as the parade’s grand marshal.

According to Ginny Dadaian, director of community relations at Azusa Pacific University, APU’s involvement with the Azusa Golden Days Parade spans approximately nine years. This year, APU’s football team and marching band participated in the parade festivities.

"We couldn't be more proud of the great city that our university calls home,” said APU’s head football coach Victor Santa Cruz. “It’s with tremendous pride that we bear the name 'Azusa' when we take the field either at home or across the country."

In addition, students involved in the Azusa Scholars program helped with check-in and handed out schedules to parade watchers, while APU nursing students volunteered at the Golden Days carnival by providing health screenings to residents.

“APU students engage the community through their involvement with the city throughout the year,” said Michelle Martinez, office manager in APU’s Office of Ministry and Service. “I love to see the APU and Azusa communities come together as one.”

“Azusa would not be Azusa without APU,” added Azusa mayor Joe Rocha.

The first Azusa Golden Days celebration took place on October 29, 1949. The citywide celebration honored the 100th anniversary of the California Gold Rush. More than 25,000 spectators from across the valley came to the city to watch what was coined the "greatest pioneer celebration." The parade concluded with a barbecue and the dedication of Memorial Park created in memory of the 29 Azusa servicemen who lost their lives in World War II. Today’s Golden Days celebration includes the neighborhood parade, Taste of the Town, the honoree luncheon, and the Golden Days carnival at Memorial Park.

Along with APU’s involvement with Azusa Golden Days, the university also provides residents with more than a dozen community-based programs, including the Neighborhood Wellness Center, S.E.E.D. (Students for Environmental Education and Discovery), A-Town Kidz., C.H.A.M.P. (College Headed and Mighty Proud), Girls on the Move, Kids on the Move, Azusa Reads, Azusa Writes, Azusa Counts, and Azusa Calculates.