Modesto Jaycees gain $10K for July 4 parade

The organizers of Modesto's Fourth of July parade were a little nervous.

They feared they wouldn't raise enough money for the annual pageant, a city institution for 135 years that draws thousands to downtown every year.

But the Modesto Junior Chamber of Commerce got some good news Wednesday. The city has $10,000 for the parade. The city set aside the money last year for the 2009 parade. But because of an oversight, a check never was issued.

That was supposed to be the last year the city was going to help fund the parade.

The $10,000 wasn't discovered until The Bee began making inquiries Wednesday after the city insisted it had issued the check and the Jaycees insisted they never received it.

"You've got to be kidding me," Jaycees President Samuel Garrett said Wednesday evening when told about the $10,000 waiting for his group. "Oh my gosh! That's amazing. I have a smile from ear to ear. That's really going to help us."

The parade and the concert afterward at the Mancini Bowl will cost $30,000. Until Wednesday's windfall, the Jaycees had raised $5,000 and had an additional $5,000 pledge from Rabobank. Garrett is confident the parade will go on.

City spokeswoman Jessica Smart said it's not clear why the check was not issued. She said that in years past, the city had issued a check after receiving a letter from the Jaycees president requesting it. She said the Jaycees may not have sent the letter last year.

Garrett was not president in 2009; last year's president could not be reached for comment. But Garrett said the Jaycees' bookkeeper sent a request for the money last year.

In other parade news, the Jaycees said Modesto entrepreneur Dan Costa agreed to be the grand marshal of this year's parade.

"I remember as a kid camping out on July 3 to get our spot," Costa said. "The parade was the thing."

Costa wants to ride in the parade in a 1953 convertible. (He was born in 1953.) "I'm going to have to get a big hat," he said, while laughing. "It's the Fourth of July. I don't have any hair."

Garrett said the Jaycees picked Costa because of his philanthropy in behalf of local institutions.

The Gallo Center for the Arts announced in January that Costa and his family would donate $1 million to provide tickets for low- income students and to underwrite the costs of low-income young people.

"We wanted Dan because of what he's done for the community," Garrett said.

Because of the recession and tight municipal budgets, some cities have scaled back or canceled their support of Fourth of July festivities.

Modesto City Councilman Dave Lopez has been working with the Jaycees to make sure the parade continues.

"It's happened across California, but I don't want it to happen in Modesto," Lopez said, adding that the parade is a great way for families to have fun, even if their finances are pinched.

The Jaycees also are working with John Thurman Field and the Modesto Nuts to hold a fireworks show July 3, Garrett said.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at or 578-2316.