Displays of patriotism and community pride will be on display in Merced County next week, as residents in a variety of cities celebrate the nation's independence with family-friendly Fourth of July events.
The following is a list of the largest Fourth of July celebrations planned throughout the county.
AtwaterAtwater's Fourth of July festivities kick off 7:30 a.m. Thursday with a "Run for Independence" — a 2K and 5K run at Ralston Park, located on Third Street, between Grove and Fir avenues. Registration for the run is $25.
The run will be followed by a parade and festival at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Winton Way, in front of the Foster's Freeze at 1401 Winton Way. The parade, which lasts about two hours, will proceed downtown and ends at Ralston Park.
The Fourth of July Festival is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday in Ralston Park. The festival will include musical acts, a variety of entertainment, food and more than 150 booths.
The festival will be followed by a fireworks display at Castle Airport. Admission on the base is $5 per carload, which includes parking, events and family entertainment, starting at 6 p.m. No walk-ins are allowed.
Entertainment at the Castle celebration will include Aliana Peau at 6:15 p.m., the Stepp Brothers at 6:40 p.m., Crosseyed at 7:40 p.m. and Cynthia Huddleston and The Juke Joint Jokers at 8:40 p.m. The National Anthem will be performed by Mary Monaghan. Gates close to the public at 9 p.m.
Greg McDaniel, one of the organizers of the event, said the Fourth of July festivities have been going on in Atwater for more than 60 years.
McDaniel said 40,000 people attended last year's festival, while 11,000 attended the fireworks show.
The fireworks show in the past was held at either Atwater High or Buhach High, but McDaniel said the show was moved to the airport this year to accommodate more people.
"We try to maintain that 'mom and pop' picnic in the park kind of thing. No matter how many people show up, we maintain that family (atmosphere)," McDaniel said.
McDaniel said Atwater residents aren't the only ones who come out to enjoy the festivities. Many visitors come from Modesto and Chowchilla because of the event's positive reputation.
"We draw (people) from probably 50 miles around," McDaniel said.
"We're prepared to double (the attendance this year).
The patriotism in Merced County has kept this one alive."
For more information, visit atwater4thofjuly.com.
Gustine's Fourth of July Parade will begin 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the north end of Fifth Street in the downtown area.
The hour and a half-long parade is followed by an 11:30 a.m. festival in Henry Miller Park, located at near the area of Sixth Street and Third Avenue.
The festival will include food booths, a frog jump and a variety of entertainment in the park.
Fireworks will follow the at Gustine High School stadium, located at 501 North Ave. Admission is free.
Andria Borba of Fox 40 is scheduled to serve as the announcer during the parade.
Judi Gandy, executive director of the Gustine Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the event, said Gustine's Fourth of July parade is 102 years old.
Many people are attracted to the parade because of its particularly family-friendly atmosphere. "It's a small hometown parade," Gandy said.
For more information, call the Gustine Chamber of Commerce at (209) 854-6975 or visit www.gustinechamberofcommerce.com.
Livingston will kick off its Fourth of July celebration with a carnival, which will run Thursday through Sunday at Memorial Park and Livingston High, near Park and Main streets.
The carnival will run 3 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday, and 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Sunday.
A grand fireworks show is slated to happen 9:20 p.m. until 10 p.m. Friday at Memorial Park. Julio Valadez, chairman of Livingston's Fourth of July committee, said the event is expected to draw attendees from all over the region. "It's a fair-like atmosphere (with) a lot of people and lot of fun," Valadez said. "We invite everyone to come down and have a good time at our festival."
Gurpaul Samra, member of the Livingston City Council, said the fireworks show usually attracts more than 6,000 people.
The carnival will also include a raffle fund-raiser, with prizes that include a car, computer electronics and other items.
Performers during the event will include Second Tradition, the Rhythm Blenders, The Valley Cats Band, Night Flite, Grupo Libertad Nortena, Las Jefas Del Corrido, Arpex, Mariachi, Tamborazo Cerro Gordo, Los Kinos, Por que La Gente La Solicito Regresa and much more.
For more information and entertainment showtimes, visit http://livingston4thofjuly. com.
Los BanosThe Los Banos Chamber of Commerce Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration will take place Thursday at 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 200 N. Ward Road.
The event is free to the public. Area churches are organizing games, school groups will be selling food, and bands led by music teachers Tom Faria and Cliff Brand will entertain the crowd.
Guitarist Alvin Draper and harmonica player Jim Nakama will also perform. In 2008, Draper was named Male Blues Vocalist of the Year by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame. A fireworks show begins shortly after 9 p.m.
For more information visit www.losbanos.com/event_fireworks.html.
• Use fireworks outdoors only.
• Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
• Always have a hose or bucket of water handy.
• Use fireworks only as intended. Don't try to alter or combine them.
• Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the user, who should wear safety glasses.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a designated user.
• Only people over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
• Don't ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department.
Source: The National Council on Fireworks Safety