The cheering of onlookers. The crackling and fizzling of fireworks. The pomp and pride of parades.
These were just a few of the sights and sounds that marked Fourth of July celebrations throughout Calaveras County last week.
Several hundred people packed onto Main Street in Mokelumne Hill on July 4 to celebrate Independence Day.
The festivities began with a pancake breakfast at the town hall to raise funds for the Mokelumne Hill Veteran’s Memorial District. That was just the start in a long line of celebrations leading through July 6.
Following the pancakes, several competitions for children representing different communities in the county were held in front of the Hotel Leger.
Just before the parade, Mountain Melody Women’s Chorus sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” drawing enthusiastic applause.
The parade featured classic cars, fire trucks, homemade floats, horses, kids on bikes, a mounted water gun and a dance number involving lawn chairs.
Adults and children alike were all smiles as the parade wended its way down Main Street.
Afterward, the crowd made its way to several booths selling food, beverages and other merchandise on the north end of Main.
Games for kids were set up in the adjacent Shutter Tree Park, and included a slip ’n’ slide, a sack race and volleyball.
“I’ve never seen so many people on Main Street,” one woman said with excitment. “I think more people showed up to the parade than live in the town!”
On the other side of the county in Angels Camp, the Fourth of July was celebrated in a different way.
At 7 p.m., the sports complex at Bret Harte High School was opened up to the public as a venue for setting off legal fireworks.
The Angels Camp Fire Department was on hand to ensure public safety.
As the sun sank behind the hills, fireworks began to light up the night. Children stood back with sparklers as parents took turns lighting fuses and rushing back to safety.
The kids shouted with excitement, drawing smiles from their parents.
At one point, 10 different groups of fireworks were set off simultaneously, casting a glow over the entire area.
“The event went well and was well-attended,” Fire Marshal Nathan Pry said in an interview on Monday. “It was a fun event for the community. It’s good to partner with Bret Harte High School and provide people with a safe place to use fireworks.”
The town of Arnold waited until the weekend to celebrate the holiday.
On the morning of July 6, the clock in Cedar Center on Main Street read 10 a.m. and 72 degrees.
“It’s a perfect temperature and a beautiful day for our parade,” the announcer said. “This is small town America at its very best. We welcome you all to our fair town.”
The parade began with a mile-long race along Highway 4. Entrants ranged from infants in strollers to full-grown adults. The crowd cheered enthusiastically as the contestants crossed the finish line.
The procession featured a variety of vehicles and floats bedecked in red, white and blue. Adults and children cheered and waved American flags as the cavalcade passed through town in the shade of towering pine and cedar trees.
“It’s just such a good hometown parade,” said Julie Hass, who has attended the celebration for about 10 years. “It’s just fun; it’s very local; it’s fun to see what’s different every year.”
Afterward, many members of the crowd made their way over to the 47th annual Sierra Nevada Arts and Crafts Festival on the grounds of Bristol’s Ranch House Cafe, where dozens of booths sold arts and crafts ranging from woodwork to wind chimes, and furniture to photography.
Highway 4 was once again opened to traffic, and colorful floats and classic cars were replaced by the vehicles of visitors and locals on their way to the myriad other summertime activities that Calaveras County has to offer.