Annual parade, gathering at Maverick Saloon returns for third year

By Mike Chaldu

Santa Ynez got a kick start on the local Veterans Day celebrations as the Santa Barbara County Veterans Foundation held its 3rd annual Santa Ynez Valley Salute to the Vets on Nov. 4, seven days before the actual Veterans Day.

The day began with the now-customary parade down Sagunto Street in downtown Santa Ynez, and continued with festivities at the Maverick Saloon, which was the starting point of the parade.

The parade was led by Grand Marshal Dave Smith, a Marine Corps sergeant who served in the Vietnam War and later was a teacher and coach at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. Also in the parade were local dignitaries such as Solvang Mayor Mark Infanti, Buellton Mayor Dave King, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, and California Assemblyman Gregg Hart.

Other entries in the parade were the Flat Fender Friends’ caravan of jeeps, the Daughters of the American Revolution, numerous women dressed up as the pin-up girls of the 1940s, the 11th Mounted Cavalry Unit, and the Widows Sons motorcycle contingent representing the Vietnam Vets.

And, of course, introducing and interviewing the parade participant, as he did last year, was emcee Drew Wakefield, the motivational speaker and radio host who’s billed as “Mr. Santa Barbara.”

Marine Corps Sgt. Dave Smith of Buellton, a Vietnam veteran, was the Grand Marshal for the 3rd annual Santa Ynez Valley Salute to the Vets parade in Santa Ynez on Nov. 4. Photo by Mike Chaldu

Wakefield expressed satisfaction that the Salute to the Veterans event has started to take a foothold in the Santa Ynez Valley area.

“Having a third year makes all the difference in the world, because now it’s not just a novelty,” he said. “People are now getting used to putting this on their calendar earlier in the year. People are looking forward to it because they know they’ve have such a good time at it before.

“If you love our veterans, and you love the United States of America, you want to show up.”

The parade kicked off the second annual Salute to the Vets celebration and led back to the Maverick Saloon on Sagunto Street for the in-person event, featuring live music from the Cash Cooper Band, local veterans programs and services booths, pin-up girl contest, food and drink, and military vehicle displays.

After the parade, there were a trio of individuals who made quite the entrance to the event as three members of the Patriot Parachute Team — Scott Harper, Nate Reed, and Steve Lobin — skydived in, landing in the field on the other side of Meadowvale Road right next to the saloon.

The parade and celebration at Maverick’s Saloon was presented by the Santa Barbara County Veterans Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to support and helping our local veterans and keeping the money in the tri-county area.

For more information on the organization, go to