Fourth of July Fun in Morgan Hill, Hollister

Thousands Enjoy Fourth Parade, Family Fun and Fireworks in
By Tony Burchyns, Marilyn Dubil and Brett Rowland Staff Writers

Bands, banners, bunting, brave soldiers and their moms, all were part of the grand observance of the nation’s 230th birthday in century-old Morgan Hill. 

An estimated 25,000 spectators enjoyed the community’s 112th July Fourth parade, which featured nearly 300 entries, including farmers riding vintage tractors, a variety of equestrian groups, clowns and novelty acts, nine marching bands and 22 colorfully adorned floats.

Spectators staked their claims to spots along the route early with blankets and folding chairs. Some businesses provided special spots for employees and their families with tarps, chairs, even coolers filled with drinks and food.

“It’s a fun family time,” said longtime Morgan Hill resident Kelley Barnes, who attended with her husband and two young children. Barnes said her 4-year-old daughter especially liked the horses and fire trucks.

VIPs in the parade included California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage, Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy, several of the city’s former mayors, international delegations from Morgan Hill’s sister cities and honored guest Belle McCormick, a 100-year-old local resident who was a few months old when Morgan Hill incorporated in 1906.

After the parade was over, thousands of spectators stuck around for a downtown street festival, featuring live blues rock, barbecued food, local wineries and games for children.

A dunk tank featuring Morgan Hill City Council members was among the popular attractions. 

Councilmen Steve Tate and Larry Carr drew big crowds of optimistic pitchers; Independence Day, Inc. organizers sometimes helped the smaller participants along by hitting the target for them, sending Tate and Carr into the waters as they taunted the throwers.

Meanwhile, in Hollister thousands thundered into downtown during the Fourth of July weekend on their Harley-Davidson’s despite the city council’s decision to cancel this year’s motorcycle invasion. Although official numbers are not yet available, locals estimated less than 10,000 motorcyclists roared into town for the unofficial rally, not even half of the estimated 35,000 that came each day during the official rally in 2005.

The Hollister City Council’s 3-2 vote in February to cancel this year’s rally didn’t stop an estimated 500 Boozefighters from celebrating the 60th anniversary of their motorcycle club. The Boozefighters, a club infamous for drunken debauchery during the 1947 Hollister invasion, gathered at local hotels and camped out at Bolado Park in nearby Tres Pinos.

While many bikers had a good time, Hollister Mayor Robert Scattini said he talked to more than a dozen bikers frustrated by overzealous police.

“I was very disappointed. I got more than 30 complaints about the police from people who were very angry,” he said. “If they wanted to make people feel unwelcome in Hollister this weekend, they did a good job.”

During the weekend, 62 people were arrested, said San Benito County Jail Lt. Edward Escamillia. Of the 62 booked into the jail, 19 were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol; seven for being drunk in public; two for gun charges and one for indecent exposure. In 2005, during the official city-sanctioned rally that drew more than 120,000 people, 90 people were arrested. In 1947, during the legendary “Battle of Hollister,” 50 people were arrested.

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