Pleasure Point 4th of July Parade

East Cliff Drive once again painted Red, White, and Blue as quirky Independence Day parade celebrates the Nation’s founding

By Neal Kearney
July 10, 2024
A huge crowd gathered next to Pleasure Point Park to show off their patriotism

Santa Cruz has long been a popular destination for tourists looking to spend a toasty Fourth of July holiday soaking up the cool and salty ocean air with their loved ones. Although the influx of tourists is great for our local economy, oftentimes locals find themselves feeling a little suffocated with the crowds when it’s time to salute the stars and stripes every year. Seeing this, Charles Paulden, who’s called Pleasure Point home for over four decades, decided, a number of years back, to organize a yearly Fourth of July parade that would allow local residents to show a little local pride amidst this yearly takeover.


Paulden, the driving force behind the annual 4th of July Pleasure Point Parade
Paulden, the driving force behind the annual 4th of July Pleasure Point Parade

Paulden, an accomplished yoga teacher and local history buff, is a fixture in the once sleepy neighborhood on Santa Cruz’s east side and can be spotted trotting down to the waves with surfboard in hand at least once a day. In fact, this consistency in the sea has earned him the nickname, “Everyday Chuck”. A fierce proponent of the preservation of the history and tight-knit community of Pleasure Point, Paulden has long been active local politics, adamantly and often vocally, protesting the city’s thirst for growth with a message of slow growth. It’s only fitting that, thirteen year ago, he took it upon himself to organize a quirky, homegrown parade on the Point

“We’ve been doing it for about twenty years now,” recalls the pony-tailed yogi. “I decided to start organizing it because we have a great little neighborhood and, I thought, if Aptos had one, then we deserve our own little parade.”


“Every year we’ve held it, it’s been a blast, and the community really seems to appreciate it. Plus, it’s just one day of work a year for me for which I get a full year’s worth of praise, so that appeals to me (laughs).” -Event Organizer Charles Paulden

Paulden, the driving force behind the annual 4th of July Pleasure Point Parade
Paulden, the driving force behind the annual 4th of July Pleasure Point Parade

The homegrown event, which gathers at the Pleasure Point Point Park across the street from the Point Market, saw large attendance this year as friends and spectators choked the busy, yet narrow, one-way street by the sea. Prior to the official start of the parade at high noon, the patriotic crowd on hand was a veritable sea of Red, White, and Blue, enjoying small-talk under sunny skies made tolerable with a light sea-breeze.

Locals of all breed were eager to salute the Stars and Stripes

While throngs of wave worshipers sampled the playful waves, cruisers piloted by sun kissed soldiers of the Summer gleamed and neighbors gossiped and milled about excitedly with anticipation. In the background, the sounds of “Burnt Bacon” danced across the ear drums of all in attendance as they played some timely rock ’n roll tunes as only those who grew up listening to them know how. By the time noon rolled around, the scene was electric.

After a few choice words from Paulden on the mic, finally the parade was off to the races, albeit casually. Friends and family members alike marched with glee towards the Hook in a show of festive patriotism as patient automobiles waited for the procession to wind it’s way down East Cliff Drive.

By the time noon rolled around, the electric scene had reached critical mass

From start to finish, the quirky gathering only lasted about an hour, yet what it lacked in extravagance, it made up for in heart. Afterwards, respiratory therapist Tim Rubacalba, who was there with his son Rocco and wife Kalina, told me that he saw the parade as a great opportunity for locals to show off a little neighborhood pride as they celebrated the country’s birth.

Tim, Kalina, and Rocco Rubalcaba

“I love how it brings out the whole community and I get to see old a lot of old friends. It truly feels like a reunion. It’s also an awesome event for the kids because they all get to participate in the parade and hang with all the other groms.” -Tim Rubalcaba

Clearly a hit with public, Paulden hopes the parade can continue march it’s way down East Cliff Drive for many more years to come.

“It was such a great time with all the cool cars, kids, bicyclists, and skateboarders sharing the street. For everyone to come together, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the Star Spangled Banner, and just enjoy each other’s company, was really special. See you next year!”