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Patriotism on parade
Thousands gather in downtown Turlock for annual Independence Day event
parade pic1
The Turlock Historical Society displays their red, white and blue pride. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

The hot temperatures, which reached 84 degrees by 10:30 a.m., did not keep thousands of patriotic Turlockers from lining the streets of downtown on Saturday for the annual parade celebrating Independence Day.

Local families gathered to watch the classic cars, dancers and red, white and blue themed floats.

One group of friends made the event into a patriotic party for their preschool-age children. The kids each had their own red, white or blue miniature chair with their names written on them and a premium spot in which to watch the festivities.

“We embrace the parade and have a big party for them,” said one dad, Jeff Williams.

The parade also drew attendees from around the state. Russell Lanini, of Carmel, watched the parade atop his unicycle, delighting many of the children who came to see the floats.

Before the parade began, local servicemen and women and their families were honored and the Quilts of Honor group gave three of their works to local veterans. One of those recipients, Jim Sanders, recalled getting on a bus just down the street from the parade in 1943 on his way to Monterey and then Europe during World War II. Other veterans given quilts were Gary Easton and Dr. Rowe.

Mayor John Lazar dedicated the parade to Police Chief Gary Hampton, who announced his resignation on Friday. Lazar said the streets of Turlock are safer because of Hampton.

This year’s parade marshal was Bill Youngdale. Youngdale was born in Turlock in 1927 and graduated from Turlock High School. He is a past member of the U.S. Maritime Service and retired as president and manager of Youngdale’s in 1997. He is a member of Sons in Retirement and has served on many business, community and civic committees throughout the years. He has also served on the board of directors for the Turlock Historical Society.

There were 83 entries in this year’s parade, which include cars, floats, bicycles, dance troupes, military vehicles and a green fire truck. Event coordinators estimated the crowd to be at least 7,000 by 11 a.m.

“I think the event was very nice,” said Turlock Downtown Property Owners’ Association president Dee Dee Thomas. “It was very pleasant and everyone seemed to be having a nice time.”

After the parade, a street faire, car show and live entertainment kept the celebration going throughout the afternoon.

The weekend’s festivities began on Friday night with the Main Street Summer Park-In at Wellington’s Pub. Vehicles filled the restaurant’s parking lot on Friday, allowing car lovers to preview the finest entries in the next day’s car show.

On Sunday, a car show and picnic in the park was held at Donnelly Park. The event included family-friendly activities such as horseshoe contests and volleyball games.

On Monday, fireworks once again filled the skies of Turlock during the Stars & Stripes 4th of July event at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Monday’s event also included a bicycle rodeo held by the Turlock Police Department and live music by Ernie Bucio.

“Spreading the event to four days allowed people to pick and choose what they wanted to do,” said Turlock Independence Celebration event coordinator Alan Seaton.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.