The Fourth of July will be celebrated early in Mohawk Valley, with a dance Friday, June 29, fireworks Saturday, June 30, and the traditional parade Sunday, July 1.
With the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday this year, event organizers had a choice — celebrate early or celebrate late.
“We found that we had a much better turnout when we held the fireworks and parade before the Fourth,” event chairman Don Clark said. “After the event, people seem a little burned out.”
Celebrate the Fourth
in Mohawk Valley
Friday, June 29 – Dance
6 – 11 p.m.: Street Dance at the Barn, sponsored by the Graeagle Lions
Saturday, June 30 – Fireworks
Noon and 3 p.m.: Civil War battles
Hourly: Old West gun battles
4 – 6 p.m.: Music in the Park
4 – 9 p.m.: Pre-fireworks fun
6 – 9 p.m.: Music at the Mill Pond
Dusk: Fireworks (about 9:30 p.m.)
Sunday, July 1 – Parade
8 – 11 a.m.: Fire department’s pancake breakfast
Hourly: Old West gun battles
10 a.m.: Civil War battle
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Old-fashioned Day in the Park
1 – 2 p.m.: 40th annual parade
The same can’t be said for Clark and co-chairpeople Michael and Patty Clawson. Although they already have been working on the events for months, they are still enthusiastic and looking forward to the big weekend.
They, along with a committee of about 30, are planning every aspect of the three-day event, which began very humbly 40 years ago in 1972.
That’s when Movin’ West Trailer Park owners Bob and Jean Britton got an idea. They wanted a fun way for children to celebrate the Fourth so they gathered a group of youngsters together, helped them decorate their bikes and led them through town so that everyone could see the colorful spectacle.
The Britton Bicycle Brigade has made an appearance every year since, but has been joined by cars, horses, floats and marching bands to become a much-anticipated small-town parade.
Clark spearheaded the effort to add the marching bands. “What’s a parade without music?” he asked. Since the local schools do not have marching bands, he looked toward Reno, where he found an equally enthusiastic retired band director who helped him secure high school bands.
During the 18 years that Clark has been at the celebration’s helm, the parade isn’t the only facet that has grown.
The fireworks display was expanded and the events leading up to the grand finale now include re-enactors of the Civil War and Old West gun battles.
Sunday’s Day in the Park has become an all-day event featuring entertainment, food and drink, and perhaps most importantly, an opportunity for local nonprofit organizations to raise funds.
“This is a great opportunity for them,” Clark said.
Nonprofits benefit from the event, but they also help make it possible. While the Elks sell hamburgers and beer during the fireworks, and the Lady Elks whip up their cotton candy, the next morning the Elks are directing traffic for the parade.
Also mingling with the cars are the volunteers who are part of “Hustle in the Street,” a takeoff on the popular fireman’s boot fundraiser, where firefighters pass their boots to collect money for their departments.
Clark said that thanks to the work of local chiropractor Dick Beaver, the “hustle” raises $6,000 to $7,000 during the weekend, which helps to offset the cost of the fireworks, which is around $13,000.
But with events that draw from 20,000 to 30,000 annually, there are other costs that committee organizers must cover.
Patty Clawson said that private and business donations from the Graeagle area have traditionally paid for the rest, but as costs climb, there has been a shortfall.
Aware that the events draw from all points of the county, Clawson said organizers are reaching out to Quincy and Portola and beyond to secure support.
Those who would like to contribute may make checks out to MVID and send them to P.O. Box 1043, Graeagle, CA 96103 or drop them off at the Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce office at the corner of highways 70 and 89 in Blairsden.
Donation boxes are also set up at the Graeagle Store, Knotty Pine Tavern, Cuccia’s, Plumas Pines Pro Shop and Graeagle Millworks.
For more information on all of the festivities, go to Graeagle.com/events.
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