Turlock invites community to Fourth of July festivities

Happy Birthday America is written on the blackboard slate in this display outside of Main Street Antiques as shoppers Lavonne Vaughn and Michael Mason walk by.
Happy Birthday America is written on the blackboard slate in this display outside of Main Street Antiques as shoppers Lavonne Vaughn and Michael Mason walk by. dnoda@modbee.com

The city’s Independence Day celebration gets a fresh spark this year, beginning Friday with a parade, street fair and car show along the town’s iconic Main Street and ending with free fireworks over the Stanislaus County Fairground.

“It was a total group effort,” said organizer Sharon Silva, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Downtown merchants, the chamber and others pulled together to give the day a makeover as a whole community event, she said.

The $18,000 fireworks show will last half an hour, starting after sunset at the fairgrounds, at Fulkerth and Soderquist roads.

“It’s free this year,” Silva said, thanks to a long list of sponsors topped by Emanuel Medical Center, the Turlock Police Association and the Turlock Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I put out the word, and within 48 hours we had it,” Silva said.

“We did it for the community. We want as many people as can to enjoy it,” she said.

Downtown businesses will be putting their best foot forward for the parade, hoping to gain customers among the crowds, merchants said.

“It brings a lot of new faces to downtown,” said Main Street Antiques co-manager Lori Smith. Sales also pick up for the day, especially if it’s hot, she said.

After a few years during which Fourth of July celebrations “faltered” along with the economy, “it’s coming back bigger than ever,” said Dana McGarry, administrator of the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association.

“These events are a great way to showcase the boutiques and restaurants we have downtown, and we love to do this for our community,” said McGarry, who also owns the Emporium on Main Street.

Friday’s festivities will kick off with some 80 entries floating down Main Street. The marching will start at 10 a.m., strutting or rolling from Palm Street west to Broadway Avenue.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a street fair and classic-car show will fill the western portion of downtown.

Much of the activity will center at Central Park, the shaded corner of Main Street and Golden State Boulevard. More than 30 food and craft vendors will fill the park, with a kid zone, live entertainment on stage and KAT Country 103 broadcasting.

Roadsters, hot rods, customized sedans and muscle cars will be parked along West Main Street to Lander Avenue, stretching out along First Street and Broadway.

Tricked-out two-wheelers will have their own area at Main and Market streets, beside a second stage with entertainment.

Cooling stations will be set up in Central Park and at Broadway and, just in case, a first-aid station will be open in Central Park.

Gates open at 7:30 p.m. at the Stanislaus County Fairground. Alcohol-free picnics are welcome, with several food booths available for those not packing provisions. Leave the pets and other fireworks at home, organizers add.

Expect half an hour of deep bass booming shortly after sunset. Watch for something called a gold kamura, Pyro Spectaculars’ signature firework, said Mark Silveira, manager of Pyro Spectaculars’ Madera office.

The kamuras are the ones that look like expanding points on a computer-drawn sphere.

The Turlock show is one of 136 shows his office will handle the seven days ending Sunday, and Silveira said he wasn’t sure which other blockbusters would be in it. Working on a tight schedule, pyrotechnics workers will set up, blow up and clean up the fireworks, all on the Fourth.

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