Refloating His Boat

Caleb Kittle; his grandfather, Mike Glancy; and his mom, Meagan Glancy, put the finishing touches on Glancy’s first entry into the Bird Rock Fourth of July parade.

His hands shake as they tighten the chassis assembled with three-quarter-inch steel gas-line pipe.

“There’s a method to my madness, to figure out all these little things that are going to happen,” says Mike Glancy, owner of Erling Rohde Plumbing, 5771 La Jolla Blvd.
He is assembling a float for his first Bird Rock Fourth of July Parade. Propelled by three bicycles, it will feature surfing Grinches and “something big in the back I haven’t decided on yet.”

Glancy, 71, moved his plumbing business last year, after his former landlord sold the building at 5763 La Jolla Blvd. (Erling Rohde Plumbing was founded in 1910 by Glancy’s grandfather, Erling himself.) Glancy now operates it in retail offices behind the nail salon next door.

Every year since 1982, Glancy — who lives in Mira Mesa with his wife of 45 years, Roberta — has built and ridden in a float in the La Jolla Christmas Parade. But last year, he announced his retirement.

“I just got really tired,” he says, explaining that the shaking in his hands is a symptom of “Parkinson’s Disease that the government refuses to diagnose because they don’t want to pay.” (Glancy served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Discharged in 1970, he never saw combat but was stationed downwind of where, he says, 64,000 gallons of Agent Orange were dumped.)

Glancy says he decided to come out of float retirement when he heard that this year’s Bird Rock parade theme was Dr. Seuss, the theme of all of his Christmas floats. But also, he says, it seemed a fitting way to mark the 50th anniversary of his military service.

“This Fourth of July means a lot more to me because of it,” he says.