By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–
Join your community on Saturday night, September 29, as Ridgecrest Glow Nights invites you to a lit-up parade on the bike paths around Petroglyph Park and Leroy Jackson Park. The fun starts at 7 pm. Walkers and non-motorized wheeled vehicles are asked to decorate their bikes and stuff with anything that lights up. Event organizer Lalo Flores says that many people wanted to drive their cars but after talking to the police department, he learned that streets would have to be shut down and the streets would need to be policed. That is not feasible for this first event.
The parade starts at the gazebo at Petroglyph Park, with DJ PaniiQ spinning tunes while folks show up. The plan is for the parade to start at around 7:45 or 8 p.m. The route will be clockwise on the bike path and cross over to the bike path at Leroy Jackson Park. Once around, the parade route should take about 20 to 30 minutes. Folks can go around more than once, or they can go to the playgrounds and just have fun. It should end at around 10 pm. He is keeping it simple: there will not be vendors with food and drink offerings.
The most popular lighting product seems to be in short supply around town. Glow sticks are a pride of China Lake. The book Arming the Fleet says, “In the process of developing advanced weapons, the China Lake team has seen many of their technological inventions and innovations find application in the commercial world,” The list includes the first chemiluminescent “light sticks.” Not just for fun, there are many practical uses; Kididl.com includes, “Glow sticks are commonly seen in survival kits. They’ve been utilized in the military for a long time. In close-quarter combat, military forces use glow sticks to identify a specific region when clearing buildings. They are used as zone markers and target markers. It aids in distinguishing an ally from an opponent during nighttime operations. Glow sticks are used as backup emergency lights.”
Flores first announced the idea for a nighttime parade on Facebook on August 10, 2023. In less than two weeks, 400 people had responded. He was surprised. Even the City Clerk reached out to him within 24 hours. He has since acquired the special event permit and requisite insurance. This has all been out of his pocket, but he isn’t complaining.
Flores is relatively new to Ridgecrest. Two years ago, he retired from the Air Force after 21 years of duty and seven deployments. He has spent this time traveling, spending time with his grandchildren, and recently felt like he was finally in a good place within himself. He told a buddy, “I think I’m in a place now where I feel human.”
He says of Ridgecrest, “It’s a nice, tight community and there is not a whole lot going on.” Although he is an introvert, he likes a sense of community. “I love being by myself,” he says, “But I also need to know where I’m at. I need to know who lives here.” After being here a year and a half, he didn’t find events that brought folks together. “Not just adults, not just kids, everybody.” He put on his thinking cap and remembered seeing a video of a glow night parade in Venice Beach. So he put a feeler out on Facebook, and someday, we will say, “The rest is history.”