Malaga Cove Celebrates July 4th
• Annual community event takes place at the Peninsula’s historic local center.
In 1962, Palos Verdes held its first Fourth of July community event at Malaga Cove school. 58 years later, the tradition continues.
From the Children’s Bike Parade to the Apple Pie Contest, this three-hour event has kept almost every aspect of its tradition alive.
Arriving in the early morning, onlookers could grab a bite to eat from the food stands operated by the local Boy Scouts, greet Uncle Sam and listen to or participate in the many activities being held at the center of Malaga Cove school’s field. In the back, refreshments and socialization take place with Palos Verdes’ senior citizens. Throughout the event, visitors listen to speeches from honoree guest speakers Gwynne Shotwell, Colonel Kevin H. Hutchinson of the U.S. Marine Corps and other renowned individuals.
The event was originated by Denise and Bryan Hardwick, a local couple, to celebrate America’s patriotism and freedoms. Thirty eight years down the line, Maxim McCormick has been involved with the event and continues to this day. As the former principal at Rolling Hills Prep (which was formerly located where Malaga Cove school is today), McCormick recalls how his participation started.
“I remember my first day on the job when suddenly, all of these people started arriving to set up for this big event,” McCormick said. “At first I thought that this was strange, so I talked to some people then offered to join the event’s committee for a couple of years. I have been on ever since.”
Every Fourth of July, McCormick organizes different details of the event based on his interests. Nevertheless, he never fails to write the prompt for the essay contest tailored to whomever the main speaker would be every year. The masters of ceremonies position does rotate within the committee members, and this year it was McCormick’s turn to host the occasion. Regardless, McCormick is an active participant in the running of this tradition and hopes to continue to do so.
Alongside McCormick, other individuals helped this event come alive. Col. Hutchinson grew up on the Hill and, with 25 years of experience in the Marine Corps under his belt, decided to return to his original community and make a speech at this year’s event.
“I decided to speak this year because my stepfather and mother asked me to, and I agreed because of my love for this community and for this tradition,” Hutchinson said. “Ultimately, I spoke out of respect for my parents, as this was something minor that I could give back to them.”
Hutchinson’s family background did come into play in his joining in the Corps. His idolization of his maternal grandfather and his role in the Army as the Regimental Commander along with his great-uncle’s service and ultimate passing in the Marine Corps inspired his decision. After graduating from Pomona College, Hutchinson chose the Marine Corps, originally for four years, to which he extended to many more.
“Along with my admiration for these men, I also joined due to my idealistic, patriotic, romantic outlook for the armed forces,” Hutchinson said. “I wanted to test myself to enter the most elite branch of the armed services, to see if I could do it.”
This Fourth of July, Hutchinson received the Donovan Black Military Service Award for his service with the armed forces. He then gave a speech about his experience with the Marine Corps, the lessons he learned, and the importance of the forces’ role in the states. His words received a standing ovation and many handshakes and positive comments afterward. Now, he’s able to pass down the knowledge he gained from his experience.
“I would advise [prospectives] to keep an open mind, as I remember having stereotypical views of the Marine Corps in the beginning, and these beliefs turned completely erroneous,” Hutchinson said. “The Marine Corps wants its soldiers to think critically, take initiative, be creative, innovative, adaptive.”
From Hutchinson to McCormick, civic awards to apple pie contests, An Old-Fashioned 4th of July is a community event that brings Palos Verdes’ locals of all ages together to cherish the independence of America. No matter how much the world has changed in 58 years, and many more years down the line, this timeless occasion will be here to stay.