Larry Clark is a founder of the Rose White and Blue Fourth of July Parade, which draws thousands of spectators each year. The parade takes place in San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood, with a third of the route following the historic main street, the Alameda. As a long-time member of the Alameda Business Association, which sponsors the parade and other causes, Clark is an expert on this historic district.

What are the people like in the Rose Garden neighborhood?

There’s a guy who, for a living—I didn’t know this—but he makes a business out of building floats for parades. He’s kind of the one who came to me and said, “You know it’d be a really great idea to have a parade up and down the Alameda, and I can help you because I have the float beds you can use to be in the parade.” …He’s sort of, I think, typical of the kinds of people who live here and have a lot of talent.

Our Grand Marshal this year is a guy named Joe Bell. He is a veteran and he will be, as of the date of the parade, 96 years old. He grew up in China. His father came over with Commodore Perry when Commodore Perry opened up Japan and stayed in China. Joe [and his family] was forced to come back here during the late ’30s because of the turmoil in China. He ended up joining the US army—he was a parachute jumper and he trained others to be able to parachute.

What’s a fun fact about The Alameda’s history that most people don’t know?

On either side of the road in 1799 there were canals, and they would have little tiny rowboats that would go up and down The Alameda on either side. They would row back and forth between the Guadalupe River and the grounds of the Santa Clara Mission.

Why is the Rose, White & Blue Parade important to San Jose’s history?

Roses were a theme in San Jose all the way to 1896 when we had the Rose Carnival, which was a rose-themed four-day celebration in San Jose. That morphed into the Fiesta de Las Rosas, a Spanish theme about roses. And then after that, it was institutionalized into a municipal rose garden. Roses are important to this area because roses have been the theme in San Jose for almost 120 years.

What is your favorite memory associated with the parade?

Usually each year the showstopper for the parade is Elvis impersonator Rick Torres. Rick goes up and down the parade route in his pink Cadillac and sings the entire time.

What expectations do you have for this year’s parade?

I think it’s going to be bigger and better and I think we have a great Grand Marshal [who’s] very fitting with our theme of patriotism and America. In addition, a late entry into the parade is Polina Edmunds, and she was the ice skater that was from [Archbishop] Mitty High School and she came in 9th in the Olympics and will be in the parade.

What are some can’t-miss destinations for any traveler stopping by San Jose?

You should probably go to Rosicrucian Museum. It’s an anomaly. It’s different and there’s nothing quite like it. … It’s been here since the ’20s. … You always want to go to a Sharks game or a San Jose Giants game.

Are there any must-visit restaurants around here?

There is Zona Rosa; you can see the rose theme continues there. It’s a great Mexican-type restaurant and Zona Rosa actually is a nice section in Mexico City. But it also takes on another significance because here we are in the Rose Garden area.

Besides the parade, do you have any other plans you’re looking forward to for the summer?

This is our big event, but we do have the wine walk which is called “Stroll the Alameda” and that’s in August, in the summertime. Each store sponsors a winery and so you go with your glass and go get a sample in each store. … Looking forward that nobody falls down, which is possible.