Parade time in Raymond

The Raymond Parade, the largest annual event in the town is this Saturday at ‘high noon.’
The Raymond Parade, the largest annual event in the town is this Saturday at ‘high noon.’ Sierra Star File Photo

The 32nd Annual Raymond Parade this Saturday (April 21), that starts at ‘high noon,’ has always featured a well-know and respected historical figure, or couple, who have had heavy ties to the town of Raymond.

But this year, for the first time in the history of the event, the Grand Marshal, also a long-time resident of Raymond (since the railroad starting shipping their goods in 1869) is a business - the Raymond Granite Quarry - a company that has contributed generously to support Raymond’s growth over many years.

Raymond Community Association President, Susan Larsen, in explaining the Grand Marshall selection, said it was an easy decision for the committee since the company has been a major part of the Raymond community for more than 100 years.

“Some would say they have been the heart of the community, because they provide a constant, and ongoing reminder of our unique history and the historic roots of this area, Larsen said. “They are also one of major business success stories of the California Old West, and of Madera County. After all the generations have come and gone, they continue to provide to this community, and to the Raymond Community Association.”

Larsen credited the quarry in helping with the development of the Raymond Community Association Park and said the company actively participates in all of Raymond’s community events.

“And of course the Raymond Granite Quarry remains a constant provider of jobs for so many people in our area,” Larsen said. “This company has never stopped working for this community, and even with the significant expansion of the overall business, they are deeply rooted in this community. We are so proud to honor the Raymond Granite Company as the Grand Marshal of the 32nd annual Raymond Parade, a so well deserved honor.”

Raymond Granite Quarry history

Soon after the coming of the railroad Frank Ducey, a contractor from Fresno, purchased a quarter section of land containing a portion of the quarry from Luke David. Later the quarry was purchased by F. E. Knowles and Able Hosmer.

The Raymond Quarry, discovered in 1896, sits atop a hill, and as you enter the main gate, you are greeted by two massive stone bears, carved by local Knowles stone carver, Peter Bisson. The bears had originally graced the entrance to the Westin Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco, evidenced by a chipped nose on one of the bears sustained in the 1906 earthquake. Those bears speak to the age of the quarry and it’s long history in Raymond and in California.

During the period between 1890 to 1904, Raymond was known for large granite deposits in the area, and several granite companies operated in this vicinity, including the Knowles, Omega, and McGilvrays, which were later abandoned.

But with the introduction of a railroad spur, built in 1890 by the Southern Pacific Railroad, Raymond granite could then be transported directly from the quarry to various destinations outside of the county. Granite profitability was then vastly increased, making it easy for the quarry to expand its operations.

Today the Alexander family owns and operates the quarry, and the Raymond Granite Company is a part of Cold Springs Granite, headquartered in Minnesota, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturing businesses that provides a range of natural stone products.

The Raymond Granite Company is the home of the iconic “Sierra White” granite, a light gray stone, peppered with black and white, that is seen throughout California on many stone buildings. Cold Springs also quarries the “Academy Black” granite, south of Clovis.

One of the first large customers of the quarry was the main US Post Office building in San Francisco featuring Sierra White granite, which can also be seen the in the foundations and walls of many significant buildings in the Central Valley and throughout the country including the new Madera County Court House, buildings in Washington DC, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at ground zero in New York. NASA has recently taken delivery of a huge garnet slab (first one of this size) 22 feet long, 16 feet wide and 3 feet tall and weighing in at 180,000 pounds.

Today, plant operations in Raymond are handled by Rocco Millard, John Mansfield and Bob Nelson, and their combined service at the Raymond Quarry totals more than a half century.

Raymond Parade

The Raymond Parade is the quintessential, home-town parade, offering traditional “Olde-Tyme” family fun for all. For over 31 years, hundreds of folks from all the foothill communities, and Madera County come to enjoy the day in Raymond. “They love the simple, home-town atmosphere and all the fun activities that take place during the day,” Larsen said.

The Raymond Community Association, which is a non-profit group, sponsors the parade and raffle as its primary fundraiser for local scholarships.

“We are proud and honored to be able to provide scholarships this year to some extraordinary upcoming graduates of Yosemite, Mariposa and Minarets high schools,” Larsen said.

“Every year we have a special theme, and this year it is “Community Service,” and features groups who are giving back to their communities, and doing good works for others. We have so many great organizations represented in our parade activities this year, which will feature many of these groups in booths at the museum grounds after the parade,” Larsen said. “Service groups include the Caring Veterans of America, Relay for Life, Docs Dogs for Vets, Madera County Sheriffs Foundation, Mountain Christian Warriors, and many others.”

“We’re very excited about the “Madera County 125th Anniversary Float” that will debut in our parade, and we have a lot of classic cars, equestrian groups, including all our Rodeo Royalty, and service groups, law enforcement organizations, and election year candidates, too,” Larsen said.

The before and after parade event will be ongoing at the historic Raymond Museum grounds, and besides the stick horse races and steer roping for the little cowboys and cowgirls, sponsored by the Raymond Community Church and the Madera Cattlewomen’s Association, e have lots of food, arts and crafts, community service booths, local authors’ book signings, and tours of the Raymond Museum and red Caboose. The big raffle will be held at 3 p.m.

“We have some beautiful granite benches, tickets to the Raymond Old West Fest, and 40 other generous prize donations from our community businesses, who have helped to sponsor our scholarship awards,” Larsen said.

Details: Susan Larsen, (559) 689-3488.