Debbie Croft: Head to the hills for the Fourth of July 30, 2013 

What better way to cool off on the Fourth of July than to head for the high country? Three foothills communities are planning memorable activities for your Independence Day celebration.

At Bass Lake in Madera County, The Pines Resort and Ducey's on the Lake are known for their exceptional service and tantalizing menu options. The gate opens at 5:30 p.m., when live music by the Marie Wilson Band kicks off the festivities. A barbecue buffet, presented by chef Johnathan Frabotta, begins at 6:30 p.m. The meal includes prime rib, plus a selection of salads, entrées, sides and dessert.

Fireworks over the lake will be held at dusk.

Reservations are required. For dining, call (559) 692-8857, and for lodging, call (559) 642-3121. Visit for prices and details. A donation of $3 per plate will be made to the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce for fireworks.

Fireworks on the Water will take place at Lake Don Pedro at 9:30 p.m. The cost is $15 per vehicle. Community nonprofit organizations will be on site with food and beverages for purchase, and to help with parking. Visitors are encouraged to arrive by 8 p.m. Call (209) 852-2396 or visit for more information.

At Columbia's historic state park, an old-fashioned holiday celebration provides family activities all afternoon. The traditional parade first took place in 1852, and invites visitors to join in the fun. Just decorate yourself, your kids, a group, a pet (no larger than 120 pounds), a bicycle or vintage vehicle (1963 or older), and you could win a prize. Registration starts at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Fallon Theatre, and the parade begins at noon.

The Columbia Foot Dragoons are scheduled to open the ceremony by firing the cannon and raising the flag at 11 a.m. Through the afternoon, competitions will be held to test your brains and brawn, for only a dollar each. Can you climb the greased pole or hammer nails the fastest? How about five-way-tug-of-war? Try the bucket brigade, egg toss and relay, watermelon and pie-eating contests, or the cake walk. The Great Mother Lode Brass and Reed Band will be in concert, and there'll be dancing on Main Street.

Members of Columbia's Chamber of Commerce will serve a tri-tip dinner at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 10 years of age. Call (209)536-1672 or visit for details.

And in Mariposa the Kiwanis Club holds its July Fourth Fireworks Spectacular at the fairgrounds every year. Food and beverage booths will be available.

The Gold Bowl stadium opens at 7 p.m. for the fireworks show, which starts at dusk and lasts about an hour and a half. Tickets are $7 each for spectators over 10 years old. A color guard, bands and more will provide pre-show entertainment. Call (209) 742-7354 for more information.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

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