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Organizer Murfey Co. aims for annual Bird Rock parade to be ‘Top Gun’ of La Jolla Fourth of July celebrations

Bird Rock's annual Independence Day parade, pictured last year, will take over Beaumont Avenue on Monday, July 4.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

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With about 25 entrants and some 2,000 onlookers expected, the 43rd annual Beaumont Avenue Fourth of July parade is set to roll through Bird Rock in La Jolla, and its organizers at Murfey Co. Inc. are hoping its growth will inspire others to get involved.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, July 4, traversing Beaumont Avenue from Camino de la Costa to Mira Monte. A gathering with live music from the Red Headed Strangers will take place at the end.

This year’s theme is “Top Gun,” concurrent with the release in late May of the movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was filmed in several San Diego locations.

When the theme is “something current and relevant that everyone can kind of relate to easily, it goes over well,” said Russ Murfey, co-owner of Murfey Co. with his brother Scott. “It helps that the movie is awesome.”

“Ultimately, the Fourth of July is all about neighbors and community and the kids and family, so having something that’s just fun and relevant just makes it an overall good event,” Murfey said.

This is the 43rd installment of the Bird Rock parade, and “a lot of people have been coming for literally generations,” he said. “Some of the original folks … tend to build some of the best floats out there and they still show up with an amazing display.”

“That’s a cool story, to see it last that many generations,” Murfey added, likening it to “Top Gun,” the original movie released in 1986, and its new sequel. “The longevity and consistency.”

Parade floats are extensive or simple, but all are homemade.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Still, Murfey doesn’t know exactly what to expect from the floats, given that everybody registers and lines up for their float numbers on the day of the parade.

“We just see who shows up that morning,” he said.

Some floats are “grand,” but others can be “anything from a bicycle with streamers tied to it or someone with a balloon on their hand, anything that they can push for two blocks and have it last just long enough,” Murfey said.

“Sometimes stuff is held together with duct tape, fishing line and chewing gum. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just needs to be homebuilt; it’s all for fun.”

Murfey said the community aspect makes the parade unique. “It’s extremely special. It’s just all your neighbors around you. Everyone rallies together and decorates their houses and invites their family and friends and looks forward to it. It’s a joint effort ... everyone pitches in and makes it fun for everyone.”

Murfey Co., which the brothers founded 13 years ago, has a broad reach, offering real estate development, investments and construction.

“We’re growing,” Russ Murfey said. “We see a huge amount of demand in the multifamily space and we’re currently pursuing development of apartment buildings and residential housing in San Diego.”

With 35 employees, the company is expanding, looking to double the size of its office.

“When a lot of people are second-guessing what to do or if they need more office space, we’ve embraced a hybrid work environment and are trying to build a team of awesome people,” Murfey said.

“It’s really been a fun place to work, and our employees love the environment we’ve created.”

Murfey said he’s also trying to increase the number of people helping with the parade, noting that the organization is all volunteer, with community fundraising.

“It’s not a big commitment on any one person’s part,” he said, “but many hands make quick work.”

Murfey also intends to form a committee to help run next year’s parade and is “looking for interested neighbors who want to participate.”

“We love doing it. We love being a part of it, but we’re also looking for people who want to help shape it in new and different ways and bring some new energy to the parade,” he said.

Those who want to volunteer or get involved in the organization for next year can email christy@murfeycompany.com.

Murfey also is seeking donations to support the parade at gofundme.com/f/2022birdrockparade.

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