The United States of America is set to turn 243-years-young this week, and to celebrate, communities throughout the San Ramon Valley are throwing parades, parties and other special events in honor of Independence Day.
Starting in Danville, the town will be hosting the annual Kiwanis Club of San Ramon Valley Independence Day parade from 9 a.m. until noon Thursday in downtown. This year’s parade theme is Celebrating the American Legion’s 100th anniversary, and will be marshaled by the American Legion Mt. Diablo Post 246.
The annual event has become popular throughout the region, with an estimate 40,000-plus visitors attended last year’s parade. In order to accommodate the large crowds, Town officials are encouraging attendees to help keep the streets clean from trash and not to reserve a spot too early, as there will be enough space for everyone.
“As this event grows, so do parade clean-up efforts. We are a small town and rely on community partnership to help limit the escalating financial costs of clean-up, in order to host such a wonderful parade,” town officials said.
Parade-goers are advised that chalk markings and tape are not considered adequate reservation of space. Instead attendees are welcome to leave chairs and other physical items in place 6 p.m. the night before. However unattended chairs placed downtown prior to 6 p.m. Wednesday are subject to removal by the town.
The parade is set to start on the north end of Hartz Avenue near San Ramon Valley High School and travel through San Ramon Valley Boulevard toward its end near Sycamore Valley Road. Many streets downtown will be closed for most of the day so commuters are advised to avoid the area.
Residents looking to get their holiday off to a healthy start are invited to San Ramon, where city officials will be holding their annual Fourth of July Fitness Run.
Starting 8 a.m. at the San Ramon Central Park Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., runners and walkers alike can participate in either the 5K or 10K fun run. While all participants will receive a short sleeve commemorative shirt, racers who finish will earn an American flag and a finisher medal to take home.
Participants can also meet in front of the San Ramon Community Center at 7:40 a.m. to get warmed up with a pre-race stretch sponsored by Shred 415.
Registration fees range from $30-$50, and can be purchased online or in person on race day.
San Ramon’s celebration will continue into the evening Thursday with its annual San Ramon Independence Day Celebration Concert, with this year’s performance featuring the musical stylings of Garratt Wilkin & The Parrotheads, one of the best Jimmy Buffet tribute bands out there.
The evening concert will begin at 5 p.m. with a patriotic music from Olympia Fields and a tribute to service veterans and also feature a free kids crafts and game zone, plus a selection of savory food from Food Truck Mafia.
San Ramon’s Independence Day Celebration Concert is free to attend and will be held in the Central Park amphitheater, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., from 5-8 p.m.
Residents who can’t wait to start in on the fun can appreciate the artistic talents of the nation’s servicemen and women, are welcome to attend a performance by the 562nd Air Force Band: The Air National Guard Band of the West Coast on Tuesday at Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Road.
For this special summer performance, the Air National Guard Band of the West Coast will be joined by the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest -- stationed in Fort Worth Texas -- for a series of patriotic and popular melodies specially arranged.
“Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Eric Patterson and Major Vu Nguyen, this 50-member ensemble performs music by Aaron Copland, John Philip Sousa, and other favorites, including selections from Broadway and Hollywood,” city officials said in a statement.
The 562nd Air Force Band’s performance is free to attend and set to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
While there is a lot of fun to be had, police and county officials want residents to know that making unsafe decisions like drinking and driving, can quickly turn what is supposed to be a fun holiday into a night of tragedy.
“The Fourth of July celebrations might be a casual barbeque in the backyard with friends, or it could be watching parades and fireworks with family in the park, but whatever it is, don’t let it end in tragedy,” said Stephen Kowalewsk, Contra Costa County’s chief deputy director said in a statement. “Before the party begins, designate a sober driver, or take public transportation, taxis or ridesharing. Whatever you do, do not drive while impaired. Celebrate the Fourth of July by remembering that with freedom comes responsibility!”
Residents can learn more about safe driving by visiting the California Office of Traffic Safety webpage.