Thursday, April 09, 2009

Orange International Street Fair

Anonymous writes about his/her memories of the "big parade on Chapman Avenue" before there was an Orange International Street Fair...

In the late 50's when I was growing up in Orange, this time of year was the big parade on Chapman Avenue. Does anyone remember? It was before the "street Fair" came to be. I loved that Dad had an office on Chapman and we would all set up "camp" there before the parade. School was almost out, and it was nearly my birthday...the world was perfect!
"this time of year" is in reference to the month of May. (I'm still going through old material from last year).

I guess I didn't realize that there was a parade that preceded the street fair, but then again it makes sense for a city to have an annual parade.

Interestingly, the Orange International Street Fair has its own website, and there's a page on its history (link)...
In 1973, The City of Orange was looking for ideas to celebrate for its one hundreth year. Inspired by the Orange Street Fair of 1910 it was decided that for the centennial celebration Orange would have the Orange International Street Fair. The Fair was so successful that it has become an annual tradition during Labor Day weekend ever since. The Fair is located near Plaza Park.
I remember visiting the street fair a few times during my college days with my best friend Greg. This was the mid-1980s. Back then, it was jam packed, just as it is today I'm sure. We rode our motorcycles and was always able to find a tiny spot to park them into. There was always so much food I wanted to eat, and just couldn't.

In the early 1990s, my nephew lived a few blocks from the Orange Circle, and when the fair would come around, he'd set up a makeshift soda shop on the sidewalk near his house. He had no vendor's permit of course. He'd buy up cases of Coke at a Price Club, and then sell an ice cold can for $2.00.


  1. I grew up in Orange/Santa Ana and always went to the May Festival and the associated parade.
    In fact, as a member of the first graduating class of El Modena High School, I cajoled my peers into creating a float promoting our 20 year reunion in the very last May Festival Parade, 1988. It was great fun.
    I belive the first time I was in that parade was while I was a songleader at McPherson Junior High. We were the "Celtics" then.
    The parade started on east Chapman and went around the Plaza and south on Glassell to Hart park, if memory serves. The bands all assembled in Hart Park to receive their parade awards. There were lots of booths, low-key carnival games, and a ferris wheel. The whole thing was organized by the Jay Cees (Junior Chamber of Commerce)...too bad parades are so expensive! Spring is the perfect time for one!

  2. The May Day parade was a big deal in Orange. But does anyone out there remember German/Irish day? YOu heard dressed up to celebrate their native decent...this was the late 40's and early 50's. SO BIZZARE. My mom remembers participating. Games and parties all day at school. It was totally polorized; you were either GERMAN or IRISH. Period. No exceptions....wonder what the poor huspanic native or asian kid on those days. Mom says it was a huge day....especially at Orange HIgh School.

  3. For Glam Life:
    yes...Dutch-Irish Days were HUGE at OHS until about 1962 or 1963. The town having had a very large German population were "Dutch" every one else "Irish" as my Dad explains it (from the OHS class of 1937). It was an opportunity to blow off steam....various sporting events took place and in the evening a Basketball Game. Dutch vs. Irish complete with Cheerleaders and Song leaders.
    The May Festival was big fun and the parade, indeed ended at the Orange City Park now W.O. Hart Park. There was a killer BBQ and a carnival.

  4. In the early 70's I lived in one of the apartments above the old Youngster Shoppe on Glassell. $90 a month for a great little 1 bedroom apt! During the Street Fair, everyone I knew would cram into my place early on Friday and we would start the partying that would last all weekend...when you live in such close proximity to the fair, it's impossible not to party the whole time! The landlord blew a gasket when he found out from a shopowner that we were all climbing out the window onto the roof to drink & watch the goings on downstairs. I guess he was afraid the weight of so many people would weaken the roof and we might all go crashing through....and he would be responsible! That was a great apartment & what fun we had at the street fair!

  5. I remember sitting on the curb near Glassell and Palmyra every year to watch the May parade, then going to the May festival in Hart Park afterwards with my friends. One year I even marched in the parade with my scout troop 155. The International Street Fair was not a replacement for the May festival; it has always been in September on Labor Day weekend, always around my birthday on the 2nd. Of course, the May parade and festival are long gone now...

  6. The May festival had the parade on Saturday, in conjunction with the carnival in Orange City Park, now Hart Park, on the south side of the creek. Along about 1960, they tried setting up the carnival on N Glassell, between the plaza and Maple, to try to spike revenue for the downtown merchants. The Int'l Street Fair in September started later. For Halloween, the store owners within a couple blocks of the plaza would allow kids to paint spooky pictures on their front windows with poster paint, with prizes awarded for the best.

  7. I remember the May festival. I grew up in Orange. I was on the drill team at my Jr. High and we marched in the parade. The Street Fair was a big deal too. My family would go all 3 days to it. It was crowded but not like it is today. You could always find a place to sit. Our favorite was German Street. We would get our food then listen to the german band play. My sister and I would do the chicken dance. My mom and dad would always let my sister and I buy a grab bag too. When we were in High School we would go with our friends. I remember one year we hung out at a friends apartment The Flats during the Street Fair. That was fun! Hey does anyone remember the little red store SouthSide Market? It had a butcher there and they sold all the good types of candy. My sister and I would ride our bikes over there during the summer and get push-ups or astro pops. I noticed that it is closed up now. So many good memories growing up in Orange.


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