Modesto’s Independence Day Parade will mark its 140th year by making a bit of history, inviting representatives of three organizations with deep community roots to ride as co-grand marshals.
The Salvation Army, United Way and Modesto Symphony Orchestra will share star billing at the head of the procession, which steps off at 9:30 a.m. on the Fourth of July. Entries will be taken through Saturday at www.modestojulyparade.com.
The parade’s grand marshals have always been individuals or couples, never a nonprofit group, said Modesto Kiwanis Club parade Chairman Jeremiah Williams. “I’ve never heard of it done anywhere,” he added.
The idea came to him as he tried to think of good deeds done by good people to honor, “looking from the audience point of view,” Williams said. The vast networks of donors, participants and recipients involved with these community groups give them a greater reach than individuals and make them a natural fit for the parade, he said.
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“It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s so and so.’ But this adds a sense of connection to the grand marshals,” Williams said. “That’s so powerful, what they do for the community.”
“The Salvation Army is pleased to be considered for the honor of a parade marshal,” said Maj. Kyle Trimmer, coordinator for Stanislaus County. The Salvation Army has served the county since 1890 “with a heart to God and a hand to man,” he said. Watch for Salvation Army dignitaries riding in a 1970 Buick Wildcat convertible.
A 1958 Edsel Citation driven by English horn and oboist Anne DeMartini will ferry Modesto Symphony representatives, said Maureen Quinn, marketing manager for the group.
“We have been an integral part of the cultural fabric of our community for the past 84 years because of the strong vision and support of our region,” Quinn said, “We could not think of a better way to celebrate the Fourth than with our fellow Modestans.’ ”
“The United Way of Stanislaus County is thrilled to be one of the three grand marshals in the July Fourth parade,” said President Francine DiCiano. The group will have a Lego-themed float with the message “Building a Stronger Community” as its entry. Its grand marshal car is still in the works, she said.
“We look forward to a memorable event and another 60-plus years serving Stanislaus County,” DiCiano said.
The 2014 parade theme is “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave!” Roughly 110 entries are expected to march up I Street to 17th, along a roughly mile-long route that starts with a 10th Street leg running from F to J streets.