On Monday morning, about 4,000 people flocked to Second Street as the parade returned to Antioch’s historic downtown area after a year at Somersville Towne Center. It was a fitting tribute to America’s birthday, as members of veterans’ groups and several packs of Boy Scout troops marched proudly down the parade route.
Walter Ruehlig, an Antioch Unified School District board member, was one of the main organizers of the volunteer-managed event, along with Allen Payton, Louise Green and Lori Chalifoux and the Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch.
“We’ll build from here,” Ruehlig said. “I think this crowd will be back next year because they had such a good time. It probably exceeded their expectations.”
Ruehlig said that organizers are already looking forward to answering the big question on everyone’s mind: will there be fireworks next time?
He noted that the planners of this year’s event have been brainstorming ways to add firepower to the 2012 installment. The main stumbling block is the price of the explosives, which Ruehlig said cost $1,000 per minute – prohibitively expensive this time around.
Ruehlig dressed the part for an Independence Day bash – wearing patriotic sunglasses, a stars-and-stripes hat, a shirt emblazoned with a bald eagle and American-flag-patterned pants. He wasn’t alone. Many others, not just participants, came out wearing their red, white and blue best.
Much like Antioch’s Memorial Day celebration, there was no shortage of thunder. Motorcycle groups such as the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Sentinel Riders rumbled down Second Street, many decorated in the stars and stripes or brandishing Old Glory.
“This year’s event was a tremendous success, given the fact that it’s all volunteer-based,” Mayor Jim Davis said. “Fourth of July has always been an important event in the city of Antioch and we’re happy to have it back this year.”
Several walks of life participated in this year’s parade. A bugler from the Sons of Italy rode in a classic car playing “That’s Amore.” Also augmenting the event’s diversity were the Knights of Columbus, the Islamic Center of East County and Knightsen 4-H.
Another of the parade’s highlights were floats from local dance groups such as Dancers Elite and Melody’s Dance Studio. At each intersection along Second Street, the dancers stopped and performed to delighted crowds.
Toward the end, one of the more popular participants was the procession of low-rider-style classic vehicles from the Antioch-based Luxurious Nor-Cal car club. Their sharp paint jobs and entertaining suspensions were a big hit.
“It was just fun to come out and bring all the cars out,” Luxurious Nor-Cal President Tone Cuevas said. “It’s a good feeling to come back out – and we’ll be back next year.”
Dancers Elite took home the Mayor’s Award for Best Patriotic Music Performance. East County Military Families earned the award for Best Patriotic Float. American Legion Post 161 was named the Best Patriotic Club. The Sons of Italy claimed the award for the Best Patriotic Cultural Group and Boy Scout Troop 151 earned the title of Best Patriotic Scout Troop.