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July 01, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, July 01, 2005

Celebrate freedom the old-fashioned way Celebrate freedom the old-fashioned way (July 01, 2005)

By Jeb Bing

F or those looking for a fun-filled mid-day picnic Monday with lots of entertainment, don't miss the Independence Day salute planned from noon to 2 p.m. at Lions Wayside Park on First Street. This seventh annual event has become another great Pleasanton tradition, with the best patriotic, foot-stompin' marching music this side of the Fairgrounds, and it won't cost a cent. In fact, it has replaced the Fairgrounds as Pleasanton's unabashedly patriotic program ever since the Fairgrounds canceled its July Fourth fireworks show and started closing early in 1997. Pleasanton's own two-hour all-volunteer extravaganza is planned so that there's still time for all of us to enjoy family backyard barbecues later in the day and then head off to other cities like Livermore, San Ramon and San Francisco that still offer public fireworks shows.

A highlight of the event is the Pleasanton Community Concert Band with special music prepared by Director Bob Williams. Included in his selections for this year is "Freedom's Promise: A Tribute to the Bill of Rights," with narration by Ward Belding, dressed as Uncle Sam. Belding also will perform as a solo vocalist and will lead "The Ultimate Patriotic Singalong." The band also will salute Pleasanton servicemen and women with its "Armed Forces Salute," which features anthems of each branch of the U.S. military service. Those who have served - past and present - are asked to stand and be applauded as their anthem is played.

Former school board member Chuck Eddinger and Major General Rodney Kobayashi, Commander of the 91st Division USAR at Camp Parks, will be guest speakers. This will be one of Kobayashi's last appearances before he ends his Camp Parks assignment next month. Pleasanton's third Poet Laureate, Kirk Ridgeway, has created an original performance piece for this year's event. Entitled "Common Sense," the poem was inspired by the pre-Revolutionary writings of Thomas Paine, and Ridgeway will appear in period costume for his presentation. Others performing will include the Lindstrom family singers; Lance Ohnmeiss playing a bagpipe solo; and a color guard provided by both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298. Members of Boy Scout Troop #908 will assist with setting up the event and Life Scout Dan Yeffa will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

This year's Master of Ceremonies will be Skip Marrell, known to many for his work with the late Ed Kinney in announcing Pleasanton parades. He will introduce five visiting teenagers from Tulancingo, Mexico, Pleasanton's sister city, who will perform a song and dance routine native to their community. They are Lupita Alfaro, Steffi Garibaldi, Paula Lazcano, Oscar Obregon, and Tania Salinas.

And there's more. Besides selling a hot dog and a drink for $1, members of the Pleasanton Lions Club will give away hand-held American flags to the first 288 to arrive. The Bank of Walnut Creek will provide collapsible stars-and-stripes paper fans and the Pleasanton PTA Council will give away patriotic "tattoos."

So grab a lunch, some chairs or a blanket and join your neighbors and friends at this traditional old-fashioned July Fourth event to celebrate what this country is all about. See you there!

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