Independence Day, eh

All of us have had at least one and possible more memories of a Fourth of July in which we celebrate the independence of this great nation.

Communities on each coast and in between honor the day with parades, family activities, fireworks, music and/or sporting events. Some festivities are small, but modest, while others literally light up the sky with the extensive array of planned events.

Locally, the Chamber of Commerce and Churchill County Parks and Recreation took over the planning last year for Fallon’s Fourth of July parade and family day at the regional park. In the 1990s, the late Marcia de Braga, who was executive secretary of the Silver State International Rodeo, felt a major part of the big international high school was missing an event; thus, the Fourth of July parade was born as teams from the various competing states decorated a trailer or truck and then put as many kids on the vehicle as possible.

Many of the contestants, though, traded in their horses and spurs for the big water soakers and sprayed the onlookers. During several SSIR weeks when the temperatures soared to 105 or 106 degrees, a blast of cool water didn’t bother too many people. Then, other entries included mounted horse groups, tractors and some politicians during election years.

When the SSIR decided to leave Fallon for greener pastures in Winnemucca after the 2010 season, a void on the Fourth of July was created. Fallon lacked a parade or any city-wide activities to honor America on her birthday.

That’s when the City, Chamber of Commerce and Parks & Rec stepped in, and within a short time frame to plan, the city held a parade and a handful of family activities behind the multipurpose building at the fairgrounds complex. To top off the evening, the Lahontan Automobile Racing Association put on a fireworks’ display at Rattlesnake Raceway that lit up the clear Nevada sky.

This year with more months of planning, 2013 will again have a parade, a family day and, of course, the fireworks at Rattlesnake to cap the day; those who don’t remain in town, will head to the mountains for cooler weather or head to Lahontan Reservoir to play in what water or mud is left.

This year’s committee is also placing more emphasis on the picnic at the fairground’s family picnic area behind the multipurpose building.

Natalie Parrish, executive director of the Chamber, said the activities at the picnic area will include live music from local bands, games and activities for children, craft and food vendors, bounce houses, a watermelon eating contest, open swim at the indoor poor west of the fairgrounds, a baking competition and Pioneer Days celebration hosted by the Churchill County Museum.

Parish also said the committee is anxious to attract as many entries in the bake-off competition.

Then, there’s the parade. Because of the government’s sequestration, Naval Air Station Fallon will be unable to participate in the parade with its equipment; however, the undaunted Parrish is actively seeking parade entries, and anyone interested in being in the parade should call her (775-423-2544).

Last year’s parade showed Fallon’s patriotism and pride for the United States. Young children lined the parade route, many of them waving miniature American flags. Others had their faces painted with red, white and blue.

One of my most vivid memories coming from any Fallon parade usually involved the rodeo team from the Canadian province of Alberta, which usually brought more than 50 contestants to Fallon and between 200-300 family members. The Canadian contestants not only decorated their trucks with the red and white Maple Leaf flag of Canada, but they also adorned their vehicles with U.S. flags. Many of the Alberta teenagers said it was a honor for them — friends — to help the Americans celebrate their independence. Many of the competitors who traveled to Fallon said they shared more values with their American counterparts in the West than they did with their fellow Canadians in the eastern part of the country.

Likewise, Colleen and I spent a week in Washington state last year at about this time. On the last day at a newspaper workshop, many of us rode Amtrak from the Bellingham station to Vancouver on July 1, which is Canada Day or their independence day.

As the passenger train slowly passed by several small Canadian communities en route to Vancouver, a two-hour trip, many Canadians walked down toward the railroad tracks, waving their flags and welcoming us to Canada on “their” day.

After arriving in Vancouver on a cool, partly cloudy Sunday afternoon and taking a quick city tour, we stopped in a section of Vancouver that was filled with celebrants. The Canadians, all dressed up in red and white clothing or hats or wearing red and white maple leaf buttons, knew our group was Americans since most of us didn’t think to drape a piece of red and white clothing over us. That didn’t matter. The Canadians were cordial hosts, welcoming us to their celebration and thanking us for attending their various events. We saw a parade and various groups dancing, listened to music ranging from hard rock to folk and walked along the narrow streets, peering into the shops and picking out some souvenirs to take back home.

The return trip to Bellingham was similar to the journey to Vancouver. Canadians dining at some the restaurants located near the tracks stood up and waved to us as the passenger train wound itself south to the U.S. border. Others hoisted a pint of brew, shouting their thanks to us for coming to see them on Canada Day.

Their reaction was the same our Fallon community gave to the SSIR’s visitors from Alberta when they participated in our Fourth of July festivities. They were as proud to wave the Canadian flag as they Were the United States’ red, white and blue.

Rattlesnake Raceway extended additional hospitality by inviting any SSIR competitor to attend the racing at the track on Independence Day and to see the fireworks.

These various activities on a special day left an endearing memory with those who experienced them.

For the young Alberta teenagers and their parents and siblings, experiencing an Old West celebration on the Fourth of July, no doubt, left an impression with them.

Likewise, spending a day in Vancouver on Canada Day is something I still remember vividly after a year.

And for the youngsters and many Fallonites who attend the festivities this year, no doubt many will remember a certain event or memory.

So, happy birthday, Canada, and happy birthday to the USA — here’s to the friendship between our two countries.

Steve Ranson is editor of the LVN.


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