Pleasanton celebrates Independence Day at downtown park today

12trh annual public picnic to include band music, special entertainment

"Cherish Your Heritage" is the theme of this year's 12th annual Fourth of July community picnic and Independence Day celebration in Lions Wayside park at Neal and First streets, traditionally one of the best family events in the Bay Area.

"The work of a small, but distinguished all-volunteer committee, it's a chance for all age groups to grab a blanket or folding chair and enjoy 1-1/2 hours of non-stop patriotic band music, songs and special entertainment," said Jerri Long, coordinator of today's event.

This year, the event starts at 12:30 p.m. with sign-off at 2 p.m. sharp, giving everyone a chance to join in the patriotic festivities while still having plenty of time for those afternoon July 4 barbecues.

Providing the music will be the Pleasanton Community Concert Band, under the direction of Bob Williams. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the band, which played its first concert at the park's bandstand.

Vocalist Ward Belding, as "Uncle Sam," will be featured along with Pleasanton Poet Laureate Deborah Grossman, who has composed an original poem for the occasion -- "Boots on First." This year's special guest will be award-winning speaker Ann Collins, whose presentation is entitled "Cherish Your Heritage." Ken McDonald will serve as master of ceremonies.

A special tribute also will be paid to the military, with a color guard from Pleasanton's American Legion Post 238 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 posting the colors, followed by the National Anthem. Pleasanton Troop 90, honoring the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts, will help with the set-up and clean-up as part of their community service.

As part of the program, three community leaders will be recognized as recipients of the Ed Kinney Community Patriot Award: Brad Hirst, Dave Wright, and Rosiland Wright.

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