Community picnic to celebrate Independence Day starts at noon in downtown park

Event features concert, tribute to military veterans, salute to Ed Kinney Community Patriot Award winners

It's the Fourth of July and many in Pleasanton will celebrate with noon-day fund at Lions Wayside Park on First Street in downtown Pleasanton.

Called "Celebrating Freedom and its Evolution since the Revolution, the event attracts hundreds every year.

The community event is a great way to "make sure that we recognize the Fourth for more than fireworks and barbecues," said W. Ron Sutton, who founded the celebration in 1998. "We celebrate our shared heritage and still have time for other activities in the evening."

The event will feature a free concert, a tribute to military veterans and their families and special recognition for this year's recipients of the Ed Kinney Community Patriot Award and remarks by Mayor Jerry Thorne.

Attendees can take part in all the festivities while relaxing in the park under shaded canopies and trees.

Lady Liberty, played by Pat Bosma, will lead a sing-along of the national anthem.

The Pleasanton Community Concert band, led by Bob Williams, will play patriotic music as well as pieces by American composers from different eras, with Ann Collins providing commentary during the performance.

To honor current and former military members, the band will play anthems of each military branch.

American Legion Post 238 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 will provide the a colorguard and Boy Scout Troop 908 will assist in setting up the event.

For guests with an appetite, the Pleasanton Lions Club will provide a hot dog lunch. For a little extra incentive to arrive on time, the Lions will also provide free hand-held American flags to the first several hundred arriving at the park.

To help beat the heat, children will be given wooden tokens to trade for ice cream cones at Meadowlark Dairy. Adults will be provided colorful paper fans to stay cool.

Master of ceremonies will be Ken McDonald, assisted by Les Duman. They will lead the program honoring Bob Butler and Margene Gerton Rivara as this year's recipients of the Ed Kinney Community Patriot Awards.

Butler was singled out for his years of service to the city of Pleasanton, including as mayor, city councilman and planning commissioner. Rivara was recognized for her efforts to improve the city's arts and provide homes for seniors.

The awards are in honor of Ed Kinney, a former Pleasanton mayor and longtime emcee for the city's all-volunteer Fourth of July celebration, who died of cancer in 2005.

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