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Annual parade, car show bring community together for Independence Day
Parade 1
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5059 and Turlock American Legion riders hit the streets on their motorcycles during the annual Fourth of July downtown parade. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Over 12,000 community members gathered in downtown Turlock Tuesday morning, looking to put a spark into their 4th of July festivities as the city celebrated the country’s birthday with plenty of food, classic cars and patriotism during its annual parade and car show.

Local veterans cruising through the streets of downtown on motorcycles, muscle cars and floats represented this year’s parade theme of Honor Courage Sacrifice, meant to honor veterans and active military. Local businesses treated veterans to special deals and giveaways, and Wardee “Gunner” Bruce, Commander of the Turlock American Legion and Vice Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5059, was chosen to usher in the patriotic celebration as Grand Marshal of the parade.

“Any time I can help out fellow veterans is a great honor, and to be chosen as Grand Marshal this year was a real surprise,” said Bruce. “It feels like compensation for all the work I’ve done with local veterans, and I was happy to be selected. I enjoyed my moment in glory.”

Mayor Gary Soiseth described this year’s parade as “one of the best Fourth of July parades to date,” citing Bruce’s leadership of the procession and the classic cars driven by community members as some of the event’s most exciting features.

“It’s always great to see thousands of Turlock residents come together to celebrate our country’s independence,” said Soiseth. “I especially enjoyed riding side-by-side with Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn, which symbolizes the growing bond between the City and campus.”

The parade had 100 float entries, according to judge Stephanie Telles, from groups on bicycles waving red, white and blue to a collection of tractor-riding community members who paid homage to the area’s agricultural roots. Taking home first place in the parade was the group “Honoring our Military,” which included a World War II truck, American Legion Post 88, VFW Post 5059, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74 members along with a float and motorcycle brigade featuring local veterans.

“It was very patriotic,” said Telles. “They really got everyone’s attention.”

Turlock Firefighters Incorporated received second place with their entry, a float featuring a 1917 Model T Fire Engine, and Mitch and Logan Baba of Paul’s Glass received third place.

Each float was selected based on four categories, including originality and creativity, whether or not the float attracted and held the crowd’s attention, if an American flag or emblem was visible and how patriotic the float was.

When selecting the Police Chief’s Choice Award in the car show after the parade, Police Chief Nino Amirfar looked not for just originality, he said, but nostalgia as well.

“I try to look back at when I was a kid and pick the cars I loved then,” he said.

Amirfar selected a 1968 Camaro as the Police Chief’s Choice because of its impressive interior, as well as its stunning outer body, while Soiseth chose a 1955 Chevrolet sedan for the Mayor’s Choice Award. Selections for City Council Member’s Choice and Fire Chief’s Choice in the car show were not readily available by press time, and those wishing to view a full list of winners can contact the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association at