Modesto should enjoy more than the usual fireworks this Fourth of July with less than the usual drama leading up to it.
Vincent Sandoval, president of Modesto Jaycees, the group that organizes the parade, picnic and fireworks, said he was confident this year's celebration would go off as planned.
"We're not immune to budget cuts," admitted Sandoval, but he added that the Jaycees were on track in trying to raise $35,000, just as they did last year.
While there were no confirmed fiscal sponsors yet, those letters had just gone out.
He said the city of Modesto would offer a discount on its services for police, roads and cleanup. The reduced rate this year is expected to be $21,000.
Money matters aside, this year's red, white and blue theme is "Land of the Brave: America's Defenders." Sandoval said 93-year-old Saxon Downs and his wife, Merle, were chosen to be this year's grand marshals.
Downs, a co-founder and owner of Franklin & Downs Mortuary, is a World War II veteran. He was a Navy corpsman in the Pacific.
Downs has also been the American Legion's Man of the Year and won the Good Egg award from the poultry industry for his civic contributions.
Sandoval said the parade would invite one of the area's local National Guard Units, the 1-184 Battalion, to participate. Also known as the Nightstalkers, the unit saw service in Iraq in 2005. Part of the 184th will be going back to Iraq this August, and another large contingent is headed for Kosovo this December.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m., as will the Picnic in the Park at Graceada Park.
The parade will follow its traditional route from 10th and F to J Street and then up to 11th and back to I Street. The parade will proceed down I to its conclusion at 17th Street.
Fireworks will follow the Modesto Nuts game on the Fourth and a flag retirement ceremony, expected at about 9:30 p.m.
The Modesto Bee and Citadel Communication remain two of the celebration's signature sponsors. Citadel includes radio stations The Hawk, ESPN, KHOP, Kat-Country and KWIN.
For more information, to sponsor or to volunteer, call Micaella "Mickie" Sandoval at 968-9369 or Vincent Sandoval at 678-7034.
Bee staff writer Roger Hoskins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2311.