VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE -- The 78th annual Santa Maria Elks Parade and Rodeo went off soaring in red, white and blue in Santa Maria, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. While celebrating the history and diversity Santa Maria Valley has to offer, people of all ages walked the route of the parade to showcase the many faces throughout the community.
The parade wouldn’t have been the same without the help of the numerous volunteers, both civilians and military members, who participate each year. The rodeo allows Vandenberg to showcase all of their excellent and hardworking Airmen and Guardians on the installation. The community enjoyed watching decorated floats cruise by, antique cars, marching bands, majestic equestrian groups and the sights of the skydiver gliding down to the fairgrounds.
Skydiver, Kent Lane, a resident of South Orange County, has completed more than 12,000 jumps in his career. He participates in the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade every year and loves skydiving down to thousands of people.
“I can’t think of a better way to do it and in these small arenas, it’s up close and personal,” Lane said. “You get to meet so many people.”
He started skydiving in 1976, where his career would lead him to competing and winning in national and world championships.
"Actually, I’ve competed a number of years and won a couple world championships and 27 national championships and I’ve pioneered base jumping at El Capitan and Yosemite National Park,” Lane said.
Lane’s first time jumping involved no form of training or practice and he has accomplished all of his jumps throughout the years without practicing.
“I’ve never practiced it, there was a gentleman that needed help and it was at a fairground,” he said. “He sent me his flag and parachute and said ‘I need you to jump in this place’ and that was about it. We walked around the fairground and I said this is possible, I can do this.”
Lane’s motivation comes straight from the people in the stands that are watching him soar through the sky.
“The people. I mean I know that’s going to sound corny and over run,” said Lane. “It’s a lot of fun and I just have this skill to be able to fly this flag and to present it to people that really appreciate the patriotism.”