Don your red, white and blue finery -- and grab some chairs and blankets -- then head to Lions Wayside Park for the 16th annual Independence Day community picnic from noon to 1:30 p.m. today.
The Pleasanton event, "Celebrating Freedom and its Evolution since the Revolution," was started in 1998 by W. Ron Sutton as a fun way to "make sure that we remember Fourth of July for more than fireworks and barbecues."
Mayor Jerry Thorne will open the program, and American Legion Post 238 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 will provide the color guard. Boy Scout Troop 908 will lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Pleasanton Community Concert Band, under the direction of Bob Williams, will play patriotic music including the anthems of each branch of the service as those who have served in the military, past and present, and their families are feted. Vocalist Ward Belding as Uncle Sam will share background information about "The Star-Spangled Banner" before leading everyone in its singing.
This year the band will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in 1864, and guest speaker Ann Collins will do a reading about women's part in that conflict.
About 100 volunteers have been busy planning the celebration, said organizers, and they will be in evidence on the Fourth, as everyone experiences the free family-friendly concert and picnic, including a hot dog and drink for $1, courtesy of the Lions Club. Lions will also give out free little American flags to the first several hundred people, and free paper fans will help folks beat the heat.
Children can receive free temporary patriotic-themed tattoos as well as wooden tokens to trade for soft ice cream cones at the adjacent Meadowlark Dairy.
This year Fourth of July fireworks are returning to the Fairgrounds. They will also be part of a celebration in downtown Livermore, where they will be launched from the parking garage.
The Pleasanton concert and picnic is a good way to observe our Independence Day, said founder Sutton.
"We celebrate our shared heritage -- and still have time for other activities in the evening," he said.
Also honored at the event will be this year's recipients of the Ed Kinney Community Patriot Award, Eric Nostrand and Bob Silva. Kinney, a former city mayor, was the first master of ceremonies.
Photographer Lisa Lorentz documents the Fourth of July celebration each year, shooting pictures of people in their patriotic garb that are used on the following year's program.
This year's master of ceremonies will be Ken McDonald, assisted by Les Duman. The event sponsor is Heritage Bank of Commerce; music sponsor is ACCUSPLIT; and food sponsor is Lions Club with assistance from Raley's.