I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
When the Good Times rolled in Pleasanton
By Barry Schrader.................................March
Those living in the Tri-Valley 31 years ago may remember the biggest
parade of all time in these parts-Let the Good Times Roll.
This fun event was the result of a silly bet between two KNBR Radio disc
jockeys-Mike Cleary and Frank Dill. The on-air wager was won by Dill so
Cleary had to grant his wish and create a parade somewhere in the Bay Area
and make Frank the grand marshal.
Some two months earlier Mike had visited Pleasanton to attend a soccer banquet
at the request of Harry Miller and happened to meet then-city councilman
Ed Kinney. When the parade needed a host community, Mike remembered Ed and
called to ask if P-town would be interested. This sounded like the chance
of a lifetime to parade enthusiast Kinney so he called Chamber president
Jo Betty Allen and JC head Gene O'Brien for support, so the parade idea
took off from there.
It all culminated March 23, 1974 with a three hour extravaganza that included
nearly 4,000 participants, over 300 units, and a crowd estimated by police
at 75,000 that lined Main Street for two miles. Traffic backed up on I-680
and thousands more never got to their destination that day. But it was declared
such a success that the radio station sponsored four more in town over a
Some unique features of that parade still bring back smiles. There was Carol
Doda, the San Fran dancer, and even a Lady Godiva astride her white stallion.
A small plane had landed on Mohr Avenue unexpectedly, the pilot folded his
wings, and that got towed through the parade route. Kinney also recalls
that a wayward Greyhound bus got caught up in the traffic and was routed
through the parade.
A Viking Ship float created by the Presbyterian men in town was a forerunner
to the now famous Balloon Platoon, which made its debut in the second Good
Times parade the following year. The KNBR promoters were so impressed with
the turnout that they decided to do it again. In 1975 they attracted about
60,000, and a third parade in 1976, tied in with the nation's Bicentennial
attracted nearly 50,000 spectators. By that time the city police department
had about enough and it looked like the end of a good thing had come.
But in May of 1984 Kinney brought them back to town for a 10th anniversary
parade which included 150 entries and 30,000 onlookers. Then a decade later,
during Pleasanton's centennial year, there was a fourth parade to observe
the 20th anniversary of the Good Times procession. During that 1994 reunion
Mike Cleary commented that "The minute we saw this Main Street we knew
that was it
it had to be in Pleasanton-small town USA." That about
sums up what people today still think of that street-it brings back memories
of lots of home towns across America.
Parades are a part of Americana and we can be thankful there are still groups
out there today putting them on-whether it be the Dublin St. Patty's Day
Parade, the Livermore Rodeo Parade, Danville's Fourth of July event, or
the County Fair Parade-they are all worth the effort and deserve our support.
* * *
For the second week in a row Don Van Meter had the answer to the history
mystery. This week I asked about the wording on the missing plaque atop
Oak Knoll at the corner of Stanley Boulevard and Wall Street in Livermore.
The answer could also be found in a book published by the late Dublin historian
Virginia Bennett. The plaque said: "Oak Knoll Pioneer Memorial Park.
The pioneers who rest interred on this knoll had the unique experience and
challenge of changing a wilderness valley into a vigorous community. Their
efforts have cast the present as our deeds shall mould the future."
The cemetery was the first in town back in the 1800s and had fallen into
disrepair by the mid-Twentieth Century. Other cemeteries had been created,
and this one was no longer maintained. Hillside erosion from the steep banks
of the adjoining arroyo had caused some of the remains to be exposed, falling
into the creek or taken by vandals. So in 1964 the city and park district
decided to restore it. The decision was made to contact any remaining descendants
of those buried there so their graves and markers could be relocated, and
the remaining tombstones were moved to the city corporation yard where they
would be held for a period of time in case relatives surfaced to claim them.
Some 40 years later the area is pretty much returned to its natural state,
but those Livermore pioneers still deserve remembering. Lets hope we can
get the plaque replaced to honor their memories.
* * *
The history mystery question for this week: What part did this valley
play in the saga of Grizzly Adams?
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551