Walter Ruehlig, who wears many charitable hats, announced recently that the daytime parade would return to the downtown area, but that an evening fireworks display would be too costly. He hopes this year’s celebration – which will get rolling on America’s birthday at 10 a.m. at Second and E streets – will become a foundation on which to build.
“I’ve had a ton of people call or e-mail me expressing their delight that Antioch is reviving the tradition of downtown parades after a sad year’s absence,” Ruehlig wrote in an e-mail. “Antioch is a patriotic bastion that really knows how to throw an old-fashioned parade that is vintage small-town America. The ambience of Rivertown is just an added exclamation mark to a grand old party that in these tough times Antioch needs as morale booster.”
Ruehlig estimates that organizers will need to raise roughly $2,870 for the parade to happen, most of that money to pay Antioch police officers for protection and defray costs associated with setup and takedown. Ruehlig is hoping to tap into the city’s spirit of volunteerism to keep expenses low – and at no cost to the depleted Antioch budget.
Major fireworks, a Fourth of July tradition, would cost about $1,000 per minute, according to Ruehlig. And while such a display might be feasible down the road, right now, it’s not.
Ruehlig, an Antioch Unified School District board member and one of the driving forces that brought the parade back to Rivertown, identified Allen Payton, Louise Green and Lori Chalifoux as also instrumental in making the downtown parade a reality. The Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch will be a major sponsor.
Last year, former City Councilwoman Martha Parsons and Susan Davis, wife of Mayor Jim Davis, helped plan the city’s Fourth of July parade at the Somersville Towne Center, attracting about 100 people. The parade was the victim of budget cuts before Parsons and Susan Davis helped revive the patriotic tradition.
“Antioch throws a really good parade,” Ruehlig said. “I’ve already had some people ask about funding ideas for next year.”
So far, several groups have come forward expressing interest in being part of the parade. Ruehlig said several car clubs and motorcycle groups, such as those that participated in the Memorial Day Thunder Ceremony, have applied for spots. He has also been contacted by the Fil-Am Club, East County Military Families and a few local churches and martial arts groups. Roughly 70 groups participated in the downtown parade two years ago, a number organizers would like to match or exceed this year.
Ruehlig hopes the event will help renew the public’s interest in the city’s historic district. “It’s good for Rivertown,” he said. “Many (people) go down there once a year, or for some, it’s the first time they’ve been down there. If we missed another year at Rivertown, people wouldn’t even look for it next year. This will revive the interest and people’s attention.”
Applications for individuals or organizations wishing to march or drive in the Antioch Fourth of July Parade can be downloaded from www.art4antioch.org. For event information or to receive a mailed application, call Ruehlig at 925-756-7628 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.