City Council visits winners of Fourth of July Patriotic Tour

Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth, right, presents the city's Fourth of July Patriotic Tour Grand Prize to Mike Herrington and Nicole Fox-Herrington for their Independence Day home decorations on Saturday, July 04, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

This year’s Santa Clarita Independence Day parade was canceled due to the pandemic but the Americana celebrations came knocking at the door of a handful of local residents’ homes as part of the city’s Fourth of July Patriotic Tour. 

On Saturday morning, the Santa Clarita City Council hopped on a trolley decked out in American flags to visit three finalists in the city’s tour contest and awarded them certificates and prizes for winning. 

The contest challenged residents to decorate their homes or business for the holiday. The city also conducted a Pee-Wee Parade, where participants competed to create the best-designed miniature parade floats at their homes. 

The Santa Clarita “Patriotic Trolley” pulls up in front of the home of Mike Herrington and Nicole Fox-Herrington in Santa Clarita for judges to present the Grand Prize during the city’s Fourth of July Patriotic Tour on Saturday, July 04, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I was really excited to be able to do something right here in our community for our youth and kids to celebrate the birth of our nation,” said Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who spearheaded the tour and parade idea following the cancellation of the parade. “We had so many people participate and the kids and families got out and even got their pets out. I’m just really proud to be part of the Santa Clarita family.” 

In third place was Liz Bunkell, whose home featured everything from a large Captain America inflatable to multiple flamingo ornaments with “face masks,” she said. 

“I’m a health care provider so I had to make sure that they were safe wearing their masks and they’re even socially distancing,” she said jokingly. “My dad was a Marine and my mom was in the Daughters of the American Revolution, so I grew up very patriotic. Celebrating and decorating lets us bring some joy to the community.” 

Santa Clarita City Councilmember Laurene Weste, left, elbow-bumps Kiz Bunkell as Bunkell receives her third-place certificate during the city’s Fourth of July Patriotic Tour on Saturday, July 04, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

In second place were residents J.C. and Celia Mejia, who transformed their two-story home into a sea of red, white, and blue from top to bottom with flags, streamers and wreaths. 

Residents Mike Herrington — the longtime Hart High School football coach — and Nicole Fox-Herrington took first place with her large, wooden USA display, as well as multiple cartoon-like fireworks ornaments. 

“My husband and I always decorate really big for Christmas and Halloween and this year we decided to go all out for the Fourth of July as well,” said Fox-Herrington. 

The tour ended at the Old Town Newhall Library with 7-year-old Ella Fernandez, the Pee-Wee Parade grand marshal and presented the Sweepstakes Award to float winner Christine Marmion. 

Santa Clarita’s Fourth of July Patriotic Tour Pee-Wee Parade Grand Marshall, Ella Fernandez, 7, arrives at the Old Town Newhall Public Library to receive her certificate on Saturday, July 04, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I’m so happy,” she said after a photo opportunity with council members. She donned an American-themed cap, electric guitar-shaped sunglasses and butterfly wings. 

Her mother, Edna, said both have participated in the annual parade and with this year’s cancellation, the mother-daughter duo wanted to celebrate by partaking in the city’s competition. 

“I’m very involved in the community and I wanted her to be involved as well. These events have been great for her to get involved as she gets older,” she said. 

Throughout the holiday, the city also livestreamed parade and fireworks coverage from previous years. 

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