Thousands expected to attend - and participate in - Alameda's Fourth of July parade

Thousands expected to attend - and participate in - Alameda's Fourth of July parade

Dave Boitano
Alameda Mayor's Fourth of July Parade

Alameda loves to party. And the biggest event of the year is only days away.

Floats, horseback riding teams, a color guard and all the other entries needed for a patriotic display will march through the town when the 39th annual Alameda Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Billed as the second-longest Independence Day parade in the nation, the event is a tradition that the Island shares with the entire Bay Area. An estimated 50,000 spectators are expected to line the streets, either standing or sitting in chairs set up in advance along the parade route.

More than 170 entries and 2,500 participants will march, roll or ride along the 3.3-mile course, beginning at Lincoln Avenue at Park Street, moving through town and ending on Lincoln Avenue at Webster Street.

A five kilometer foot race along the parade route, the Ralph Appezzato Charity Event, will be held before the parade, at 9 a.m. Medals for the top three male and female finishers in each of four age divisions will be awarded.

This year’s parade Grand Marshal will be former Alameda County deputy district attorney and Judge Richard Bartalini. Bartalini has a long history of service to the community, serving as president of the Alameda school board, chairman of the city’s housing authority and president of the Alameda Boys and Girls Club.

Two young cancer survivors, Miranda Tuttle and Myla Cunanan, will preside as junior grand marshals of the parade.

Marching bands are a staple in any parade, and music programs in the Alameda schools will benefit from sponsor fees. The parade committee hopes to donate $10,000 to schools this year.

Tom Tuttle, former editor of the Alameda Times-Star newspaper and a past parade participant, said the parade reminds him of the Independence Day events he attended while growing up in Midwest. His former home town of Clearlake, Iowa hosts a major celebration that is often attended by presidential candidates looking for that ideal patriotic photo opportunity.

The U.S. Navy was always a fixture in past Alameda parades, contributing Navy bands, Tuttle said. When the Alameda Naval Air Station closed, the bands were missed initially, but school marching bands now provide the music, he added.

So why is Alameda ground zero for one of the nation’s biggest Independence Day parades? The answer has to do with the nature of the Island and its residents, according to Tuttle.

Alameda’s close-knit Island community fosters a kind of “island mentality” that is reflected in the large level of participation by the locals, he said.

"It's been here forever,” he said of the parade. “There is a sense of community that comes out of it and a certain pride in that the small-town atmosphere that supports the whole thing.”

For more information on the event, visit the parade website. For more information or to register for the Ralph Appezzato Charity Event race, visit www.alamedarace.com.

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