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Sonoma’s July 4 parade theme salutes the arts

SONOMA’S JULY 4 PARADE will start at 10 a.m. Friday, July 4, from the corner of East Spain Street and First Street East. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

SONOMA’S JULY 4 PARADE will start at 10 a.m. Friday, July 4, from the corner of East Spain Street and First Street East. Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

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The Sonoma Community Center’s 51st annual 4th of July parade and celebration is set to take over the Plaza from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, July 4.

Each year, a committee selects a theme for the parade, and entrants decorate their floats accordingly. This year the theme is Saluting the Arts in Sonoma Valley. “The arts are a vital component of a healthy community,” said Toni Castrone, the center’s executive director. “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 have been selected 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 1st Supervisor Susan Gorin.

The Sonoma Community Center will carry on its tradition of leading off the parade with a one-of-a-kind float, designed and created by its 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 performance by the Hometown Band. A patriotic ceremony will honor parade dignitaries at 11:45 a.m. At 1 p.m., Never Fear Band will kick off the afternoon with live music on the grass; followed by 2013 Sonoma Valley Treasure Artist Dave Aguilar’s band Tudo Bem at 3.

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 4th of July parade and celebration is supported and sponsored by Sonoma Market, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, Sonoma Market will make a $10,000 donation to the center to help support its Trashion Fashion show and free community events.

For more information about the 4th of July parade and celebration, or to become a member at Sonoma Community Center, contact its main office by calling 938-4626, ext. 1, or visiting its website at sonomacommunitycenter.org.

No setup is allowed on the Plaza before July 4. 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.

The parade is open to all, and participation is free, although donations are gratefully accepted. All participants are strongly encouraged to add to the festivities by decorating their entries.

Be in the Parade: Parade guidelines and entry forms can be picked up in the Sonoma Community Center main office located at 276 E. Napa St., or downloaded from its website at sonomacommunitycenter.org.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of First Street East and Spain Street.

Street closures will begin at 8:30 a.m. on July 4. All cars not removed from the Plaza by 8 a.m. will be towed.

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 First 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.

There will be free bike valet in Depot Park. To reduce congestion, spectators and participants are encouraged to ride their bikes to the Plaza. A free bike valet service will be provided courtesy of Sonoma Community Center. The bike valet will be set-up in Depot Park, just off Sonoma’s bike path, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Sonoma Community Center is seeking volunteers on both July 3 and 4 for a variety of duties including help setting up before the event, cleaning up after the event, monitoring the parade route, and monitoring the Plaza. To volunteer, contact mc@sonomacommunitycenter.org or call 938-4626, ext 4.

  • John Ross

    . I don’t go to the 4th Parade every year, as it’s getting to be known nationwide as a destination, and the crowds are just incredible. They are really trying to make it larger than what this little town can actually pull off in a safe and timely manner. I would say that they need to re-plan this event a bit more if they are going to promote it on a national level. The parade route is very short for the number of viewers. The number of entrants have grown so large that there seem to be large gaps on the parade route. I’m sure this has to do with the limited space in the staging area where it begins, and they release participants and floats in “blocks” of a certain quantity, Perhaps extending the route down Broadway might alleviate the bottleneck on the Plaza. The large crowds spilling off the sidewalks and onto the streets also slow things up. I’m not complaining, mind you. I still think it’s a great time, and I almost enjoy it more (for sentimental reasons) than the kids. But you know kids have a certain limited span of attention, and if you go much over that, they will lose interest. Since, after all, the parade is largely for the little ones, they should take this into account, and scale it down just a bit…