D.U.D.E.S. Saves Spirit of July 4

Review file photo
D.U.D.E.S.’ Flavio Morales, Martin Abornoz, Dan Cooley and Charlie Wilson gave a circus-themed performance at the 2018 Festival of Balloons. Due to the pandemic, D.U.D.E.S. will be offering a slow-rolling caravan fundraiser through town this year.

The pandemic will prevent you from attending the Festival of Balloons this year, but the D.U.D.E.S. are making it possible to bring a reasonable facsimile of the traditional event to South Pasadena residents.
D.U.D.E.S., an acronym for Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service, is the South Pasadena charitable organization that has more than 300 members and is even more prolific when it comes to good ideas. And the plan it has concocted for July 4 is among the best.
D.U.D.E.S. is going to bring back the Independence Day spark with a slow-rolling caravan through town on the Fourth of July — the procession replete with decorated cars and bikes bedecked with flags, banners and streamers — all the while blaring the classic summer music typically heard at the city’s traditional fireworks show at South Pasadena High School. But it wouldn’t be a D.U.D.E.S. production if it didn’t have a benefit. So the group has tabbed the Back2Class campaign as its beneficiary. That fundraiser is designed to help buy critically needed personal protective equipment and other supplies to keep students and teachers safe when schools eventually reopen.
“It is so important to raise money for the schools right now,” said Jeff Rosenberg, president of D.U.D.E.S. “We are making it clear that the need is huge and we want to bring the spirit that the Festival of Balloons represents to people high and low, near and far, who love South Pasadena’s schools. This event represents everything we have come to know and love about our community, and this is an opportunity to give back. I am hoping people think ‘What am I doing with that extra five bucks? That extra 100 bucks?’ Or even more.’”
With its famed in-parade performances and celebrations — some planned, others impromptu — D.U.D.E.S. has become synonymous with the annual parade, and the group has no intentions of putting down the fun for a year. While donations of any kind are welcome, five levels have been established. A $50 bronze-level gift entitles the donor to two custom-made face masks, delivered to your door. A $100 silver donation will get four masks delivered to your door, and a $250 gold-level donation is worth 10 masks.
A $500 platinum gift merits 10 masks plus a D.U.D.E.S. street performance in front of your home on July 4. The $1,000 diamond donation elicits 10 masks, a D.U.D.E.S. street performance in front of your home on July 4 plus a custom, limited-edition, original numbered and signed art print that has been created by Scot Drake and depicts iconic South Pasadena scenery.
“And you are going to get a bunch of crazy guys in cars,” said Rosenberg. “We are going to bring the Fourth of July to you. I hope that will carry forward the energy we want in the city and give back some of the energy we get from the city. I hope people feel they can let their freak flag fly a little bit, even during social distancing, while sitting on their front porch on the Fourth of July.”
“It’s exciting,” said John Aboud, vice president of service projects for the D.U.D.E.S. “Several of us went to a meeting for the Festival of Balloons right before the big shutdown and when it was canceled, it seemed like there was an opportunity for us to do a guerrilla operation. The Back2Class fundraising effort was announced at the same time, and we felt it was a perfect opportunity. It is something fun, which we are known for, and it is a way we get to help fund a project.”
For information, call (323) 899-5952, email john@johnaboud.com visit southpasdudes.com/4th.
At the end of the day, Rosenberg may have found the best way to explain this particular mission of the D.U.D.E.S.
“We couldn’t let it go,” Rosenberg said. “It would not have been a great Fourth of July to just let it pass and not do anything.”
Now, thanks to the D.U.D.E.S., that is merely an option.