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Ripon on parade during 56th festival
Almond Parade DSC 1969
The Ripon High marching band was part of Saturdays parade. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Thousands lined central Ripon streets on a blustery Saturday to enjoy the 56th annual Almond Blossom Festival parade.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Posse earned first place honors in the Equestrian Categories followed by Merced County Sheriff’s Posse and the Tuolumne County Sheriff Posse.  

The Ripon Historical Society was represented by four vehicles.  President and founder John Mangelos rode in a 1922 Packard touring car driven by Allen Velthoen, with Gary Medeiros, Historical Society vice president, waving out the back window,.   A second vehicle – a 1967 Ford Galaxy convertible – was driven by retired school board superintendent and now vice mayor of Ripon Leo Zuber.  Docents in the back seat were Dennis and Margaret McCoy. Don Schaapman and Don Blum, both docents at the veterans’ museum, rode in a 1947 Chrysler with suicide doors.  

Also in the parade was Connie Jorgensen, museum curator, and docent Julie Shannon who was wearing Ann O’Leary’s mother’s dress from the 1930s that she got from the museum.  O’Leary is the wife of retired Ripon Unified School District superintendent Joe O’Leary. 

A number of open cars carried Miss Almond Blossom Saylor Abreu, followed by her court led by first runner-up Savanna Mendoza and Princess Kate Phelps, Princess Gianna Smith and Princess Elysia Medina followed by Miss Ripon 2017 Jessica Harlan. 

The sweepstakes and best overall entry citations went to Blue Diamond Growers.

Re/Max Executive won the best float award with a realistic old town set of three buildings that included a black smith shop with the real estate firm’s for sale sign.  

Livingston Middle School grabbed the best band status with 85 members.

Calvary Reformed Church was credited for being the most entertaining float by carrying a band. The hometown spirit award went to Ripon’s Boy Scout Troop 414 along with two trucks and two trailers in their group.  

In the “Plain Western” category Michele Leal won first place and second went to Miss California Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association.

For the “Vehicle/Hitch & Horse” category Wilbur-Ellis, buckboard pulled by two beautiful black horses won the first-place award.

In the “Charro/Charra Costume” category first place award went to Claudio Arroyo.  In the “Ladies Side Saddle” entry first place went to Charlie Alamo.

And for the “Mounted Group, Sr.” a first place was won by Mid-Valley Cowbells and second place went to Star-Lit Farms.

In the “Novelty/Fiesta” entries first place went to Quadrille Queens and second place was won by the Barnwood Stables.  Third Place went to Back Country Horsemen Mid-Valley Unit.

Candidates for office in the parade included Congressman Jeff Denham who with his staff walked the parade handing out insulators for coffee cups and cold drinks; San Joaquin County District Attorney Toni Verver who walked ahead of her vehicle waving at the crowd and wishing them well as did State Assemblyman Heath Flora and Sheriff’s candidate Pat Withrow. 

San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore rode in a vintage town car with San Joaquin County Supervisor Chuck Winn representing the Ripon area followed by a Sheriff’s black and white patrol car. 


To contact Glenn Kahl, email