Community members are invited to join in what has become a tradition for celebrating the birth of our nation at a free family-friendly concert and (optional) picnic in Lions Wayside Park from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 4. About 100 volunteers are involved in producing the celebration.
“Celebrating Freedom and its Evolution since the Revolution” is the permanent title of the event. This year’s theme is “Memorable American Moments,” celebrating eight historic anniversaries with musical tributes performed by the Pleasanton Community Concert Band, under the direction of conductor Bob Williams.
“Visiting these points on the 243-year timeline of our history gives opportunity to notice the changes in technology, business, transportation, entertainment, and social activity still ongoing in our evolution,” noted Williams.
“Memorable moments” to be recognized:
• The transcontinental railroad was completed 150 years ago, and a part of that original line still exists in nearby Niles Canyon.
• Celebrating 100 years this year is the American Legion, and also Pleasanton’s own Meadowlark Dairy, adjacent to where the Independence Day event will be held.
• Two memorable movies were produced 80 years ago: “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
• It was 60 years ago that American audiences first enjoyed “The Sound of Music.”
• Half a century has passed since the moon landing.
• That was also the year of the infamous Woodstock concert.
Each of these milestones will be honored with appropriate music.
Mayor Jerry Thorne will provide the welcome as the program begins. Pat Bosma, as Lady Liberty, will lead a sing-along of the national anthem.
Also included will be a tribute to those who have served in the military, past and present, and their families, as the band plays the anthems of each branch of the service. American Legion Post 238 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 will provide the color guard. Boy Scout Troop 908 will assist with set-up for the program, which attracts hundreds of people of all ages.
The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by a naturalized citizen.
Audience members provide their own chairs or blankets, and they are encouraged to wear red, white, and blue. The audience can sing along to “Happy Birthday” to the United States of America.
A popular feature is “A Dog & a Drink for 2 Dollars” – the hot-dog lunch sold by the Lions Club. Lions also provide hand-held American flags free to the first three hundred members of the audience to arrive. Children will be given wooden tokens to trade for soft ice-cream cones at Meadowlark Dairy, adjacent to the park. Several shade canopies will be in place, in addition to the shade provided by trees in the park.
Event sponsor is Heritage Bank of Commerce. Music sponsor is ACCUSPLIT, makers of certified accurate pedometers and stopwatches. Food sponsor is Lions Club.
This year’s masters of ceremonies will be Ken McDonald and Les Duman. The 2019 recipients of the Ed Kinney Community Patriot Award, Sarah Banholzer and Jorge Victoria, will be honored. The award is named in memory of the first master of ceremonies for the event, former mayor Ed Kinney.
Founder W. Ron Sutton says, “The all-volunteer event is a fun way to make sure that we remember Fourth of July for more than fireworks and barbecues. We celebrate our shared heritage – and still have time for other activities in the evening.
“Two decades ago, the Alameda County Fair officials canceled their Fourth of July fireworks after a shooting had occurred the previous year. We realized that Pleasanton had no other celebration planned for our Independence Day. That’s why we started ‘Celebrating Freedom and its Evolution since the Revolution.’ Since then, county fair officials decided that Fourth of July fireworks have been permanently eliminated. We continue to offer a fun, family-friendly way to honor our special national holiday.”
Returning audience members is looking for their photos from last year in the mosaic of pictures on the printed program.
This Independence Day event is produced by Pleasanton Community Concert Band, for CelebratingJuly4.org, which is part of Make A Difference, Today and Always. Both are local non-profit organizations. If interested in learning about (or donating) to either, visit their websites: www.pleasantonband.org or www.MakeADifferenceTodayAndAlways.org (www.MADTAA.org).