The great, cool weather was probably the best part of this year’s Fourth of July celebration in Atwater, but there were so many positive aspects of the all-day-long event.
It all started in the early morning with the annual Run For Independence with an incredible turnout of people of all ages.
Andres Quezada Jr., 25, of Winton crossed the finish line first in the 2-mile race, followed by the top female in the race, 14-year-old Allie Harman of Rocklin. In the 5 mile race, it was 27-year-old Izzak Mieles of Irvine and 29-year-old Stephany Saavedra of Winton who took top overall honors.
Next up was the traditional hometown parade with the theme: “Celebrating 100 Years” — a tribute to the official incorporation of the City of Atwater back in 1922.
It’s election season, so some of the local candidates were out in force with their campaign teams in the parade. Congressional candidate Adam Gray was shaking hands along the route, as was his opponent John Duarte. Assembly candidate Mark Pazin rode atop a car, as did Atwater mayoral candidates John Cale and Mike Nelson.
Grand Marshal Sandra Schiber was all smiles as she passed by, and so were Miss Merced County Jillian Stewart and Miss Merced County’s Outstanding Teen Gwyneth Steele-Quevedo.
There were tractors, horses, school bands, young athletes, cheerleaders, classic cars, veterans, bikes and motorized racers, music and singers.
And the colors Red, White and Blue ruled the parade, of course — and in various forms.
The Merced County Republican Assembly and Republican Women Federated were loud and proud — and there was at least one image of former President Trump in the parade.
Politics continued among the many information and artisan gift booths inside Ralston Park where a community celebration took place. One booth by Patriot Supply was selling “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirts.
Over at the Women’s Club, everyone was laughing and getting along and enjoying the Atwater Rotary’s “Ribs and Beer” — that was the place to be … or over at the beer gardens outside the Portuguese Hall.
The party continued at Castle with a special event in the Tarmac, live entertainment by Mike Hammer and the Nails, and the biggest fireworks show in the valley.
Again the night was made for good times because of the cool weather and patriotic fervor.
Kudos to Atwater for keeping tradition alive and inviting everybody for a wonderful Independence Day celebration.