Parade, celebration set for July 4
THE HOMETOWN BAND and the Other Hometown Band are among the perennial favorites in Sonoma's Fourth of July Parade. Parade applications are due July 1 and are available at the Sonoma Community Center.
Sonoma Community Center is pulling out all of the red, white and blue stops in preparation of its Fourth of July Parade and celebration in the Sonoma Plaza.
The patriotic day begins at 10 a.m. with the biggest annual parade in town, followed by a festival on the Plaza with a variety of food and game booths manned by local nonprofits, plus live music throughout the day.
"We think ours is the most beloved July Fourth celebration in the county," said Sonoma Community Center Executive Director Kathy Swett, who also noted that the theme for this year's parade is "Our Local Heroes." Parade participants are encouraged to create parade entries and floats that honor Sonomans, past and present, who have inspired, lead or moved them in some way.
The grand marshals for this year's parade will be several local veterans who fought in the liberation of France during World War II, and will pay tribute to all local World War II veterans - a group whose ranks are quickly thinning.
The Travis Air Force Base Color Guard will make a special trip to Sonoma to lead this year's parade; and during the first 10 minutes of the parade, the 301 Airlift Squadron will fly a C-17 directly over the Plaza. The plane will be piloted by Lt. Col. Adam Willis, Maj. Troy Ogle, Maj. Caleb Provencio and Maj. Phil Dillingham.
In addition to the grand marshals, the American Legion Post 489 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1943 will honor Gen. Hap Arnold by flying replicas of his two five-star flags above City Hall during the parade. Arnold, considered by many to be the "father of the Air Force," commanded the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II and was the only person to have held two five-star ranks as both general of the Army and general of the Air Force. Sonoma's Arnold Drive and Arnold Field are named after the military leader, who lived in Sonoma Valley immediately after World War II until his death in 1950.
Sonoma Community Center's Special Projects Manager Margaret Hatcher has created two 15-foot tall street puppets to lead the parade on behalf of the community center. The puppets represent the spirits of the Fourth of July and the vast number of local heroes found in the Sonoma Valley. More than a dozen volunteers have been enlisted to "walk" the puppets through the parade route.
After the parade, nearly 30 local nonprofits will sell food and host carnival games until 5 p.m. Live music in the Plaza begins at 1 p.m. with Bautista Band, and continues at 3 p.m. with the Joe Chaplain Band. Beer and Larson Family Vineyards wine will be offered for sale, with proceeds benefiting Sonoma Community Center.
To download a parade application, visit the Sonoma Community Center website at www.sonomacommunitycenter.org, call the front desk at 938-4626, ext. 1, or stop by the office at 276 E. Napa St. The deadline for applications is July 1.
Entries are accepted on the day of the parade, but late-comers' floats are not announced at the reviewing stand.