Serving the community since 1970

Rose Festival ends with a bang

It was a jam-packed lineup of events for the Wasco Rose Festival, beginning with a pageant on Thursday and "An Evening of Wine and Roses" reception on Friday.

On Saturday, there were many other activities for the whole family, including a color run, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a festival at Barker Park, an open house at the Wasco Historical Society Museum and Block and Tackle Deep Pit Dinner.

The Wasco Recreation and Parks District kicked off Saturday early morning with their "Somewhere Over the Rainbow Color Blast Fun Run." Participants were sprayed with colorful powders during a 5k run and 3k walk.

"I came today to participate in the color run to help Wasco because the funds raised will go to the City," said Iris Ruiz. "It's a unique experience to be a part of. I brought my son Antonio."

Amelia Fenk came with her whole family.

"We are running as a family, and it was special getting to be active together," said Fenk.

Camilo Vasquez, the volunteer coordinator, said, "Days like today are an excellent opportunity for community building."

Participant Nidia Alvarado added, "It exceeded my expectations. I am definitely going to do it again next year."

WRPD district manager Chris Serna said, "It was a lot of work but fun planning it. The turnout was more than we anticipated. We had over 50 entries."

She added, "It was such a fun event. We really had a blast."

Mayor Gilberto Reyna attended.

"I want to recognize Chris Serna and her staff for putting this together for Wasco. I think they did an outstanding job," said Mayor Reyna.

The 3-on-3 basketball tournament was another highlight. There were girls, boys and men's divisions for players ages seven and up. The winners received trophies.

"The kids were excited and ready to play," said Eddie Velasquez, event organizer with 2nd to None Basketball.

"This is a great event for the youth and something to get excited about. I hope we can continue this again next year. They had this in the past, and I am happy with the return," said Erica Alvarado.

The parade followed, with floats, cheer teams, dancers, taekwondo students, the WHS band and various schools.

The Kern County Sheriff's Mounted Posse, Wasco Junior & Wasco Minis Colorguard, Kern County Fire Department Station 31, Miss Wasco Rose Queen and her court and Ms. United States Agriculture participated.

There were also horses, classic cars and other vehicles, to name a few.

The parade entrants were decorated in line with the Wizard of Oz festival theme, 'There's no place like home.'

Maribel Moreno, with New Generation Church, dressed up as Dorothy.

"I think it's very exciting and nice to do things for our City and lift everyone's spirits. We do it all for Jesus as well. Our float has won every year except last year," said Moreno.

Kevin Lara with Basham & Lara Funeral Care was there with his Harley hearse.

"I'm from Wasco, and I always wanted to be in the parade, as well, as show our support," said Lara.

The girls from Planet Dance Studio performed a routine. "We waived and had a great time," said dancer Brisella Lucio.

Rancho Las Palmas Equestrian Group brought their horses.

"We've been doing this since we were younger and wanted to come after Covid, returning to more normal times," said Jessica Barraza.

Mayor Gilberto Reyna, Mayor Pro Tem John P. Pallares and Councilmembers Mike Lynch and Alex Garcia rode in a 1920's fire truck.

"We participate every year and look forward to it. I have vivid memories with me and my grandfather watching the parade," said Pallares.

The Grand Marshals, Tilo and Jeni Cortez, Roger and Deloris Harrison and Tim and Karen Holtermann, rode with family and friends.

The honorary Grand Marshals Wasco Elk Ladies rode with the golf carts club.

The Palm Avenue Middle School was there. Principal Zach Ellis said, "It's a great community event, and it's a tradition we lost during Covid, but the leadership of the Rose Parade committee breathed new life into it. It's awesome to see everyone out here."

Marlyn Garcia said, "It was nice being in the parade this year. I was representing my school as an honor roll student. It was special seeing everybody around smiling and happy."

There were many great entries, and the best were recognized.

In the walking category, 1st place went to Wasco Tigers Taekwondo and 2nd place to The Scarers.

For schools, 1st place was Grow Academy Shafter and 2nd place was Wasco High School cheer.

With the float category, 1st place went to New Generation Church and 2nd place to Life House Church.

In the other vehicles category, 1st place went to the City of Wasco and 2nd place to Basham & Lara Funeral Care.

Finally, in the cars/trucks division 1st place went to Grand Marshals Tim and Karen Holtermann, while 2nd place was Ms. United State Agriculture.

After the parade, a festival took place at Barker Park. There were arts & crafts vendors, information booths, music by DJ Nonsense, an art show sponsored by the Wasco Woman's Club, free haircuts and good food.

Merlyna Andres said there was lots to do and lots to buy.

"It was entertaining, and I liked the music."

DJ Nonsense played cumbias, hip hop, funk and old school. He said it was good to have the Rose Festival back.

Michelle Rizvanovic said it was great because it had a family atmosphere.

"I'm new to Wasco, and this was a great introduction to the City."

Ramon Salazar said, "The festival got the community together, especially with everything going on; people need to be more united."

The food was a hit with kettle corn, funnel cakes, burritos, potatoes on a stick, nachos and snow cones.

Rose Festival committee member Sharon Sharp said, "There was something for everyone. Whether you wanted to buy a plant, learn about a local business, look at art from an esteemed artist like Helen Howard, or vibe to the tunes of the DJ, while enjoying some fantastic food, you could do all that and more."

The Wasco Historical Society Museum was also open for guests to tour and learn more about the City's rich past.

Miss Wasco Rose Queen Ensley Mehlberg visited the museum with her family and friends.

"It's really cool. I got to see all of the pageant books since 1969, when it started. It was really interesting to see all the things that happened before I was born," said Mehlberg.

Luis Barrios said, "I never realized this was here in Wasco. I've always been fascinated with history, and it's nice to see the preserved exhibits for future generations."

"I found my mom in a 1982 yearbook. I saw she was in band in high school, something I did not know she participated in," said Kaitlyn Pearson.

The Block and Tackle Deep Pit Dinner closed off the night to benefit the Wasco High School football team. It was a popular tradition from the festival's inception in 1969 to about 2008 that returned this year.

Chad Martinez, board member for the Block and Tackle booster club and Wasco High School football coach, said, "We support WHS football with this event. It is special because this is the first time in 12 years that the deep pit dinner has been a part of the Rose Festival, and we are happy to bring it back."

There were 500 pre-sale tickets sold, and the money raised will be used to provide meals for the players before and after their games.

"It is a wonderful meal for a good cause," said Glen Wegman. "You can't beat that. The Tigers need all the help they can get."

Elijah Gonzalez said, "I am grateful for the booster club and appreciate all that they do for the whole team."

It was a good ending to what was undoubtedly a memorable and special occasion for those that attended the Rose Festival.

Sharp said of all the festivities, "It was really important for us to move it back to September, and the day from start to finish has reinforced that we made the right decision. It was a magical day."

The entire Wasco Rose Festival was a huge undertaking orchestrated by a core group of six people who showed their passion and love for our great City.

They were Camilo Vasquez, Emma Dobbs, Sharon Sharp, Orquidia Ocampo, Traci Clendenen and Juan Gallardo.

Clendenen said, "Today there were so many community participants that it felt like the festival of the past, and we hope to keep growing year after year. The smiling faces and all of the families here made all the work worth it."

They were Camilo Vasquez, Emma Dobbs, Sharon Sharp, Orquidia Ocampo, Traci Clendenen and Juan Gallardo.

Clendenen said, "Today there were so many community participants that it felt like the festival of the past and we hope to keep growing year after year. The smiling faces and all of the families here made all the work worth it."


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