Morgan Hill hosting Fourth of July float workshop

At the 2010 4th of July parade, Cheryl Heslington, left, Kieran

If you’re turning 135-years-old this year: first, happy
birthday. And second, beyond a world record you’ve likely set, you
have been alive as long as the Fourth of July parade has proudly
pranced through Morgan Hill.
If you’re turning 135-years-old this year: first, happy birthday. And second, beyond a world record you’ve likely set, you have been alive as long as the Fourth of July parade has proudly pranced through Morgan Hill.

As Santa Clara County’s official patriotic parade, the 135th celebration will be another to remember and to kick off the parade, organizers are hosting a free workshop on how to create an award-winning float.

The 2011 theme, coined by the couple in charge of the parade Bob and Maureen Hunt, is “An Old-Fashioned 4th of July.” The float workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, at the Centennial Recreation Center is a free perk for the community and special to it this year is a guest lecture by an official Northern California parade judge.

The Hunts have volunteered since the 1990s and say the crowd of thousands continues to grow each year for the two-hour parade the morning of July 4.

“I think people are coming home to Morgan Hill for the Fourth of July because we are one of the few that has Fourth of July celebrations in the Bay Area really,” Maureen Hunt said.

The parade and a potpourri of other events were previously organized by Independence Day Incorporated, yet after this year’s president Charles Weston got to talking with the 40 “core” set of volunteers (503 are listed as volunteers over five days of events), they decided to brand the celebration with catchy phrasing. So, “Freedom Fest” was devised and IDI became “Independence Day Celebrations” acting as the umbrella organizer of the Fest.

The not-for-profit IDC and Weston believe the brand will be more recognizable. With nine events listed on the Freedom Fest flier, a new logo and website, Weston and the volunteers have been busy for months.

“We’ve been raising about $145,000 to essentially entertain the whole city of Morgan Hill for a day and a half for free. So while we’re ignoring our kids and not eating to put on these events, it’s important to remember our grandparents and great-grandparents who came here because it’s a better place to live. It’s an extension of what happened 207 years ago,” Weston said.

The celebration of the United States’ birthday starts June 24 with the Fire Cracker Golf Classic at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Gilroy. The Family Bike Classic takes place July 2, the 22nd annual Patriotic Sing July 3 at 6 p.m. with a street dance and live concert following in downtown until 11 p.m.

On July 4 – “It will still be crowded” Maureen said about the Fourth falling on a Monday – the start whistle blows at 7:45 a.m. for the Freedom 5K run and one-mile walk. The Liberty Car Cruise and Show will follow the parade route through downtown before the actual parade at 10 a.m. And while visitors wait for the sun to set over Community Park, pre-fireworks entertainment will start at 6 p.m. The Fireworks Extravaganza begins at dark.

“A lot of cities have discontinued their celebrations because of the economy. So this is where they know to go. This is a great place to celebrate the Fourth,” Maureen Hunt said.

Funding Freedom Fest is credited to the volunteers who fundraise and generous donations from the community. The city does not pay for the celebration out of its budget, with the exception of providing police officers to work during the parade and fireworks show.

To volunteer or get more information on any of the events call 779-1776, email the Hunts at [email protected] or visit www.mhfreedomfest.com.

Parade entries are due by May 24 for the standard fee and with an additional late fee, June 4 is the final day groups can enter the parade.

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