Thacher's Own Kara Hooper Named Ojai 4th of July Parade Grand Marshal

Perry Van Houten, Senior Reporter
Today, the Ojai Valley News made the exciting announcement that Kara Hooper will serve as this year's Ojai 4th of July parade grand marshal. For the full article, please read on or visit the Ojai Valley News website at

Kara Hooper takes Grand Marshal Prize on July 4
by Perry Van Houten, Senior Reporter

The Ojai Independence Day Committee has selected 2022 Ojai Living Treasure Kara Hooper as this year’s parade grand marshal.

“I was completely surprised, overwhelmed and quite honored,” said Hooper, following the March 18 announcement at the St. Vincent de Paul Society monthly food pantry at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, where Hooper is a regular volunteer. “It was very meaningful to receive it in that space, because it’s been a really important part of my life over these last three years.”

Boys on the Thacher School baseball team, including Hooper’s two sons, Hiram and Hayden, were volunteering at the pantry that day and heard the announcement, “which was really special,” she said.

A former college counselor at the school, Hooper has devoted herself to helping students in the Ojai Unified School District, founding O-Higher Ed, which helps students with the college application process.

Hooper serves on the board of the Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation, as assistant scout leader with Ojai Boy Scout Troop 504, and she has been a soccer coach. “At this particular moment in time, the thing I’m most proud of is supporting the youth of our community through O-Higher Ed and the Scout program,” she said.

According to Hooper, the past few years have been tough for students due to the pandemic and its impacts on schooling and extracurricular activities. “I feel that our young people really need support right now,” she said.
Hooper also helps stock the valley’s Little Free Libraries, placing more than 4,000 books last year in the LFLs, with a focus on children’s literature. “I like the idea of knowing that small contributions over time can make a difference,” she said.

Hooper is also a member of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter and has helped with Wreaths Across America and other patriotic events.

In June, Hooper was named an Ojai Living Treasure by the Rotary Clubs of Ojai.

When selecting a grand marshal, the six-member Ojai Independence Day Committee looks for people who serve the community but go unrecognized, according to committee president Kristi Adejumo.
What sets Hooper apart is that she’s involved in so many community service activities around the valley, Adejumo said.

The committee received at least three other nominations for grand marshal this year, “which is the most we have had in a while,” Adejumo told the Ojai Valley News.

As for the theme of this year’s parade, the committee chose “Our Lady Liberty.” “We thought it was different than what we normally have, along with something groups can use to decorate their floats,” Adejumo said.

The 2023 Ojai Independence Day parade is set to step off at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4. Other than riding near the front of the parade and doing a lot of waving, “I don’t know the full extent of my duties yet, but I stand ready to perform as needed,” said Hooper. “It’s really quite an honor and I’m very humbled to have received this from the Ojai community.”

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