GATHERED on the sidewalk alongside the First National Bank of Tustin to watch
the first Tiller Day parade in 1 957. Many equestrian units joined in
It was an early summer day in 1957 when Bill
Moses, editor/publisher of The Tustin News, and his advertising manager,
Clint Caldwell, decided Tustin needed some excitement. Why not organize a
They approached the Chamber of Commerce with
their idea and soon plans were under way for a parade plus a carnival plus a
street dance. Someone came up with the idea of calling the event Tiller Day
in honor of the time when Tustin was an agricultural community.
Committees were formed. Organizations were
approached and by August the concept of a parade, a carnival and a street
dance had become a reality.
A decent size crowd lined D Street (El Camino
Real), considering the designated Saturday morning was hot and there was
little shade. Tustin’s new fire truck, a shiny red vehicle with gleaming
brass, headed the line of march, startling the crowd with periodic blasts of
its horn and siren. The city’s first fire truck, the converted 1912 Buick
donated by Sam Tustin, followed, proudly carrying with the first Tiller Day
Queen and her court.
The remaining entries were mainly
convertibles with Mayor Jerome C. Kidd, city council members Frank Bacon,
Lee Byrd, Vincent L. Humeston, W. L. Tadlock, and other dignitaries
interspersed with equestrian groups.
Bands were sparse, but the crowd didn’t seem
to miss them. They hooted and hollered and applauded as if it was the
grandest parade they’d ever seen. The last parade entry passed by and the
spectators moved over to Main Street which had been blocked off east of D
for the carnival.
Ray Aunger, owner of the Tustin Hardware, Dan
Spriggs from Ruby’s Cafe, W. R. Nelson, Tustin Elementary School principal
and later superintendent of the school district, and Helen and John Gritz,
local musicians and piano teachers, played catchy dance music with a
flat-bed truck parked beside the Tustin Drug Store as their bandstand.
Tiller Days was deemed a success that should
be repeated. Someone suggested that more school bands and organizations
would be available in the fall and the date was moved to October.
Tustin Area Woman’s Club, which had supervised the first queen contest
continued to be involved. The Junior Chamber of Commerce took over the
entire event in 1963.
Now, 50 years from the first Tiller Day, a
Tustin Tiller Days Committee is in charge of all facets of the celebration,
which has grown to three days. Tiller Days has swelled from a few makeshift
games to more than 100 booths plus a full-scale traveling carnival. Columbus
Tustin Park has been the site for many years.
The parade route has changed several times
over the years. Originally, units marched south from First Street into the
heart of the business district, then the route was reversed.
The event now attracts thousands of people
and makes thousands of dollars for Tustin’s nonprofit organizations.