Sonoma Community Center’s 51st annual Fourth of July parade and celebration take over the Plaza on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This year’s theme is a salute to the Arts in Sonoma Valley. “The arts are a vital component of a healthy community,” said Executive Director Toni Castrone. “We are fortunate to live in a community that values its artists and supports creativity.”
Past recipients of the City of Sonoma’s Treasure Artist award will act as Grand Marshals for this year’s parade. Dignitaries will include Sonoma Valley’s Alcaldessa Suzanne Brangham, 2013 Treasure Artist Dave Aguilar, members of the Sonoma City Council, and Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Sonoma Community Center will carry on its tradition of leading off the parade with a one-of-a-kind float, designed and created by Special Projects Manager Margaret Hatcher. Hatcher is the designer behind many of the Center’s most eye-catching visual displays, including its Trashion Fashion Show held each spring.
Beginning promptly at 10 a.m. the parade will march its way from the intersection of First Street East and Spain Street, west along Napa Street, and end at the intersection of First Street West and Spain Street. Live entertainment will begin in the Plaza at 11:30 a.m., with a patriotic ceremony honoring parade dignitaries at 11:45 a.m. More live music follows.
As spectators line up around the Plaza to view the parade, nearly a dozen Sonoma Valley nonprofit organizations will sell food and run game booths. Traditional carnival fare will include such favorites as hot dogs, hamburgers, turkey legs, tri-tip sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, snow cones, popcorn, cotton candy, and iced coffee.
Beer and wine have been donated by Little Family Vineyards, Gundlach Bundschu, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Lost Coast Brewery, and will be for sale from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All proceeds from beer and wine sales will benefit Sonoma Community Center.
In addition to help from the City of Sonoma, and individual donations from parade entrants, this year’s Fourth of July parade and celebration is supported and sponsored by Sonoma Market, who is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. In honor of this milestone, Sonoma Market announced it will make a $10,000 donation to the Center to help support its Trashion Fashion show and free community events.
- The number of floats is down a bit from last year, which will make for a shorter parade on what looks to be a hot day. The call was for more decorated floats, and less unimaginative commercial entries. The result, says Event Manager Mary Catherine Cutcliffe, “is quality, with a bit less quantity.”
- The Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration in Sonoma is one of the best days of the year for people watching. “It’s amazing to me that nearly every citizen of the town plus their out-of-town guests come to the Plaza,” said Cutcliffe. “The parade and the booths on the Plaza throughout the day reflect the diversity and rich culture of our Valley.
- Boy Scout Troop 16 will join the NorCal Group 5, Civil Air Patrol as color guard leading the parade.
- Boy Scoot Troop 222 will decorates the City Hall horseshoe with American flags, then man the ‘throw the potato at the salami booth’ on the Plaza midway.
- Count on a spectacular creation from Sonoma Community Center’s entry designed by Margaret Hatcher.
- With art as the theme, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art will be represented by workshop students bearing their hand-painted flags.
- Marching bands in the parade include The Hometown Band and a band from Altamira Middle School.
- Parade entrants Los Charros Del Valley and the Charros De La Bufa both have more than 15 horses and live music.
- Return of the weiner dogs: The daschund brigade known as Hot Diggity Dogs will participate.
- The Boys & Girls Club as well as Hanna Boys Center will have 50+ person entries in the parade
- The Sonoma Valley Farmers Guild and the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market will both have entries, with music.
- The Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley will have with several jeeps in their patriotic entry promoting Freedom Day USA
- The staff of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn will be wearing red, white & blue shirts signifying the years of employment with the company.
- Several antique and classic cars will participate, including a 1981 Pontiac Trans Am “Smokey & the Bandit” edition.
- Look, here comes a gigantic chicken.
- How about this float: a live recreation of Washington crossing the Delaware, complete with antique boat, running water and an ice machine.
- Big thanks, as always, to the Native Sons of the Golden West for helping with safety and crowd control.
Live music on the Plaza
11:30 a.m. The Hometown Band – Patriotic music from Sonoma’s all-volunteer big brass band.
1 p.m.Never Fear Band — Rich Little, Jeff Bundschu & Scott DiMartini rock the green.
3 p.m.Tudo Bem – Sitting in with Dave Aguilar’s band will be Dave Chavoya, the longtime City groundskeeper (the City Hall horseshoe driveway is named for him) and red-hot harmonica player with the Hellhounds.
A bike-friendly Fourth
With all the traffic and parking restrictions (see below) riding a bike to the bash is the best idea yet. Park it safe, and for free, with the bike valet at Depot Park, thanks to the Sonoma Bicycle Coalition.
Keep in mind….
- No setup is allowed on the Plaza before July Fourth. The Sonoma Police Department and City of Sonoma have asked that no lawn chairs, tents, umbrellas, blankets, or similar items be left on the Plaza overnight. Sidewalks must be kept clear at all times. Items left overnight are subject to removal.
- Street closures will begin at 8:30 a.m. on July 4th. All cars not removed from the Plaza by 8 a.m, on July Fourth will be towed. Don’t count on street parking with 2-3 blocks of the Plaza, and don’t park in commercial spaces.
- For everyone’s safety, nothing may be thrown at, or from parade entries. This includes water balloons and candy. A designated “Wet Zone” will be located at the intersection of 1st Street West and Spain Street for those who wish to be hosed down by the antique fire truck that brings up the parade’s rear.
When the sun goes down on the Plaza party, it’s time for the annual fireworks extravaganza. The pyrotechnics are fired from a safety zone in front of the General Vallejo House on West Spain Street. There’s lots of blanket-friendly viewing just east of the area, near the bike path and baseball diamonds, but expect a big crowd for the big show.