Founders Day a winner
Mother Nature’s intrusion doesn’t dull party in RP
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By Natalie Gray  September 27, 2013 05:00 pm

There didn’t seem to be a dry place in Rohnert Park at 10 a.m. last Saturday. The air was cold, the ground sodden with puddles of rain, and the heavy black clouds floating ominously overhead were threatening to dump more showers. 

All things considered, the day was shaping up to be too dismal to even step outside, let alone celebrate. It was shaping up to be a poor day for the city to have its Founders Day in all respects.

Despite Mother Nature’s dreary disposition, Snyder Lane was still lined with an impressive crowd of onlookers waiting patiently for the parade to begin. 

No one seemed to mind the rain much and most came prepared. The line of people was dotted with every color and designed umbrella imaginable, girls in bright rain boots, kids bundled in Spiderman raincoats and men clutching travel mugs of coffee that breathed smoky threads of steam into the gray air. However, a little later than originally promised, the street was ripped open with a burst of color from the oncoming parade, starting at Lawrence Jones Middle School and ending at Rancho Cotate High School.

The theme for this year’s Founders Day and the parade was “Your Favorite Storybook,” which seemed to fit the day better than organizers probably originally anticipated; what goes better with a rainy day than a good book? And, the array of children’s stories provided a blast of fun colors for the parade participants. And it seemed no one with any affiliation to Rohnert Park was forgotten and no story left unexplored.

The Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety led the parade, their sirens and lights blazing the path for the rest of the show. There were city council and city representatives, some riding in the back of sports car, others walking or on bicycle, like Councilman Jake Mackenzie, who was also in a kilt. Almost all of them threw candy, which the children onlookers had no problem collecting out of puddles.

All the schools were there, marching with costumed students and waving principals, like Waldo Rohnert Intermediate School and John Reed Elementary that marched together with Clifford the Big Red Dog. Rancho Cotate had quite a presence in the parade with its junior varsity and varsity football teams, the marching band and colorful musical floats representing each class.

The senior class float, represented as “Wizard of Oz,” took home the Best in Show award.

Sonoma State University’s athletic department took home Best Overall for their representation of Jack London’s “The Sea-Wolf,” having created their float to look like a ship and characterization of Captain Wolf “The Sea-Wolf” Larsen, the namesake of their schools mascot. 

By the end of the parade, the sun had miraculously began to stick long fingers through the clouds and slowly but surely began to warm the day, and everyone seemed in good and inspired spirits.

“I think if it hadn’t rained, it would have been as big as the 50th,” said Parade and Event coordinator Sherri Lorenz, comparing this year’s Founders Day to that of last years, when the city celebrated 50 years.

Maybe she was right; with all the vendors and events and music, maybe this year’s Founders Day could have accumulated the same mass crowd as the year before, rather than the friendly but smaller gathering it received. All things considered, one thing is certain – it’ll take more than a little rain to ruin Rohnert Park’s parade. 

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