“I don’t care how many people there are,” said Jasmine Huerta as she sat beneath a tree at the Somersville Towne Center with her 3-year-old daughter Lucy. “I want to teach my daughter that America is worth celebrating, even if it’s on a small scale. The important thing is to do something to show your appreciation for our freedom, and you don’t need anyone else to do that. We’re having a great time.”
The event was organized by City Councilwoman Martha Parsons and Antioch’s First Lady Susan Davis after the usual city celebration fell victim to budget cuts. An opportunity for local patriots to strut their feelings, the event turned out to be a condensed version of what has gone on in downtown Antioch every year, minus the fireworks.
The parade featured patriotic music (played by boom boxes instead of bands), politicians (Congressman John Garamendi joined Parsons, Mayor Pro-tem Mary Rocha and Mayor Jim Davis), military vehicles (Jim Bundgaard and his vintage World War II Jeep), as well as clowns (including school board member Walter Ruehlig), kids and free flags for those who needed something to wave. The Knights of Columbus sported their plumed hats and sharp suits, and the Four Star Gymnastic Academy leaped and tumbled its way along the route. The 2010 Contra Costa County Fair Queen Meghan Wristen was there, too, doing her stately wave from a convertible.
One of the largest contingents was the Islamic Center of the East Bay, whose members proudly carried their group’s banner. Almost as big was East County Military Families and Friends, whose members carried a giant “care package” representing the group’s primary troop-support function. When the procession around the mall was complete, everyone headed inside to take refuge from the scorching sun and enjoy the Temple Hill Choir, which presented a patriotic music program.
As the event drew to a close and the attendees headed off for barbecues and swimming pools, it was clear that the idea of a small-but-heartfelt observation actually had some advantages.
“Mommy,” one tot was overheard to say as she walked, waving the small flag she’d been given. “I think we should do this every year. Daddy always says bad words when we take the car to the fireworks.”
For more photos of this year's Fourth of July festivities, click here.