This year’s Independence Parade theme is “Honoring Hometown Heroes”. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s a repeat from last year’s parade. According to Cathy Nykiel, Parade Coordinator, “the idea of honoring the many heroes in our community was so rewarding last year we decided to do it again”.
Selected by the Independence Parade Committee the 2019 Hometown Heroes are Colleen O’Harra, Larry Hatter and Max Disposti. Each have shown dedication and a history of service to our community.
Colleen O’Harra was admitted to the practice of law by the State Bar of California in November 1978. She was a solo practitioner until 1989, when she joined and became a partner in the law firm of Greenman, Lacy, Klein, O’Harra & Heffron in Oceanside. During her career she practiced in the areas of land use, estate planning, elder law, personal injury and family law. Ms. O’Harra retired from the firm in December 2002 and has been working as a Private Professional Fiduciary since 2001. From 1992 until 2000, Colleen served as a member of the Oceanside City Council, serving two of those years as Deputy Mayor. She also served on the Oceanside Planning Commission for three years. She has been President of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and is a founder of the Women’s Resource Center in Oceanside where she currently serves as Board Member Emeritus. In addition, she serves on the board of the Oceanside Charitable Foundation, an organization she cofounded in 2006.
Larry Hatter has been involved in this community for many years. As a downtown property owner, Larry was active in the Downtown Business Association, the precursor to MainStreet Oceanside. Just a few of his community service positions through the years include Board of Directors, Armed Services YMCA; Founding Member, Oceanside Friends of the Library; Chairman, Oceanside United Way; President, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce; Campaign Chairman, Oceanside Unified School District Bond Drive 2000; Chairman, North Coast United Methodist Church Building Committee; President, Mira Costa College Foundation; North County Times Oceanside Citizen of the Year 1991.
Max Disposti was born in Italy in 1968 and lived in Rome for 30 years. After college, he pursued his volunteer aspirations by working with different human rights and non-profit organizations. He came to the United States in 1998 and moved to Southern California in 2001. He began volunteering with local agencies where he noticed the need for a stronger North San Diego County LGBTQ community. In January 2008, he founded the North County LGBT Coalition, a non-profit organization that almost immediately increased LGBT visibility in the North San Diego community. In 2011, he founded the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, where Max serves now as Executive Director. He is a seasoned non-profit executive in organizational oversight, marketing/communications, development/fundraising, event planning, outreach, membership building and campaigns. Max’s provides ongoing coaching, board governance, training on LGBTQ competency and support for others on the team through the continue sharing of his knowledge, and experience.
All three honorees have been recipients of the City of Oceanside’s prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award.
Of course, the staging of the parade is not without its own heroes. Cathy Nykiel has been the Parade Coordinator since 2006. She makes order out of the 130+ groups of floats, equestrian units, marching bands, dignitaries and local celebrities. She takes pride in keeping the parade to two hours. “Much longer and viewers lose interest”, according to Nykiel. Along with the capable assistance of the MainStreet Oceanside staff and the Parade Committee, Nykiel sets the parade line-up, coordinates over 100 volunteer route marshals and parade announcers and interfaces with City staff to ensure that the roads are closed on time and cleaned up afterward.
MainStreet Oceanside’s 25th Annual Independence Parade will start at the intersection of Coast Highway and Wisconsin Avenue at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 29th. Marchers will head north along Coast Highway to end of the route at Civic Center Drive. More information is available online at OceansideParade.com or by calling the MainStreet Oceanside at 760-754-4512.