Marshal Dick Woodland and Queen Bonnie Cary Thorndyke to reign over 94th annual Pioneer Day Parade

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Pioneer Day committee has announced the 2024 Pioneer Day Royalty as Marshal Dick Woodland and Queen Bonnie (Cary) Thorndyke. The 94th annual Pioneer Day Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12, but the start of the Pioneer Day events are just around the corner.

Since the first Pioneer Day in 1931, a Grand Marshal and Queen have been chosen from families who have settled in our area to reign over the celebration.

Woodland was named the 2023 Roblan of the Year by the Paso Robles and Templeton Chamber of Commerce. His love for cars was influenced by his upbringing at his parents’ service station. Although he initially pursued racing, his path led the Bearcat to various impactful roles in Paso Robles.

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He became a partner in Eberle Winery in 1982 and founded the Citizen’s Bank of Paso Robles, later merging it with the Bank of Santa Maria. Woodland also developed the Woodland Plaza Shopping Centers, contributing to local economic growth. 

Beyond business, Woodland and his wife established the Woodland Auto Display at the Estrella Warbird Museum, showcasing over 100 vehicles. He has actively participated in historical preservation and housing projects, earning beautification awards and community respect.

Thorndyke is a Paso Robles High School alumna and, alongside her late husband Mike Thorndyke, has been heavily involved in the community for much of her life. She has been involved with the sorority Beta Sigma Phi for 58 years, giving back to our community and Trinity Lutheran Church as a braille worker.

Bonnie and Mike Thorndyke
Bonnie and her late husband Mike Thorndyke. Photo provided by the Thorndyke family

The Thorndyke family started its Central Coast residency in San Simeon, where Captain Thorndyke was the first lighthouse keeper for the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. The family also owned a general store later known as Sebastiansthat today is in renovation to become a tasting room for Hearst Ranch Winery. The family then then made a move to Paso Robles, where they started Wayside Liquor in 1963 and owned the Gold Coast Ice Company. She and her husband had the Talk Shop on 12th Street.

To complete the royal lineup, soon the Pioneer Day Committee will announce the Belle and her attendants. Belles and their attendants are young ladies representing a local Pioneer Family that came to the area prior to World War II. They are usually fresh high school graduates and young women. Their families have deep-rooted connections in the Paso Robles community. 

Belle and attendants represent the different areas that make up the Paso Robles Area and can vary each year. Areas often represented are Carissa Plains, Creston, Parkfield, Templeton, Adelaide, Linne Township, Paso Robles, San Miguel, and so many more.

Pioneer Day festivities will begin in August, leading up to the big parade day:

San Miguel Old Timers BBQ

  • Date: August 25, 12-2 p.m.
  • Location: San Miguel Community Park
  • Details: Hosted by the San Miguel Lions Club, this event promises a delightful barbecue experience for all.

Pioneer Day Kickoff Party

  • Date: September 28
  • Location: Estrella Warbird Museum
  • Details: A fun-filled evening featuring a barbecue dinner, live and dessert auctions, music, dancing, and casino games. Meet the 2024 Royalty in a lively setting.

94th Annual Paso Robles Pioneer Day Parade

  • Date: October 12, 10 a.m.
  • Location: Downtown Paso Robles
  • Details: This year’s parade will feature antique tractors, horse-drawn wagons, marching bands, mounted equestrian groups, youth groups, church groups, civic groups, floats, vintage cars, fire engines, military vehicles, and more.

For more information on the Pioneer Day Parade and its upcoming festivities, visit pasoroblespioneerday.org.

Look for a complete story on the Paso Robles Pioneer Royal’s history in the community in the October issue of Paso Magazine.