Ashland 4th of July highlights – Part 2

Ashland 4th of July – Recent Highlights Part 2

Part 1 of our 4th of July parade recent highlights ended with a Bald Eagle.  We will start Part 2 with another dramatic Bald Eagle from Wildlife Images, which has been saving injured and orphaned animals since 1981.

Bald Eagle from Wildlife Images (2009)

Bands and Horses

When I think of traditional parades, I think of floats, bands and horses.  Ashland’s parade is definitely not traditional.  We don’t do well in the “floats” category.  We do better in the “band” category.  Thanks to the Ashland City Band and American Band College (photos shown in Part 1), we get to hear some rousing band music as we watch the parade go by.

Thanks to El Tapatio Mexican restaurant, we also have horses in the Ashland parade most years.  These are beautiful horses, even dancing horses that really impress me.  Enjoy the brief video clip below.

El Tapatio restaurant horses (2012)


El Tapatio restaurant – dancing horse video

Dogs of All Shapes and Sizes

Then we get into dogs of all shapes and sizes.  Here are a few to refresh your memory of funny dog moments from parades you have attended.  I remember in the 1990’s a community group used to walk with 15 to 20 wiener dogs (okay, dachshunds).  I was always amazed that those short-legged, sometimes big-tummied dachshunds could walk the entire parade route.  Below you will see a genuine 4th of July “hot dog.”

From big horse to tiny poodle (2010)
Friends of the Animal Shelter (2013)
Friends (and hot dogs) of the Animal Shelter (2010)
Canine Companions (2017)
Canine Companion in action (2017)

Princess Riding a Unicorn

This is not a horse photo.  This is a real princess riding a real unicorn.  They graced us with their presence here in the rough and tumble “real world” back in the 2006 parade.

Even unicorns! (2006)

More Ashland Community Groups

Here are photos of an assortment of community groups and students from years 2011 to 2017.  I am sure you will recognize many of them.  You might even be active in one or more of these community groups.

Returned Peace Corps volunteers (2011)
Boy Scouts (2011)
Ashland Food Bank & Food Project (2017)
Indivisible Oregon District 2 (2017)
Southern Oregon University football team (2012)
Ashland High School football – since 1898 (2014)

Two Ashland Businesses

Two Ashland businesses stand out for me as I remember many years of parades.  I already mentioned one – El Tapatio Mexican restaurant – in connection with horses.  They also bring colorful Mexican dancers who brighten the parade with their traditional dresses.

The other business that has grabbed my attention through the years is Southside Tattoo.  I am not personally a tattoo aficionado, but I have enjoyed their souped up cars and motorcycles.

Southside Tattoo business often enters cool cars or motorcycles (2011)
El Tapatio restaurant has beautiful dancers in the parade, in addition to horses, cars and more (2014)

More Tradition

Many kids love big trucks, especially fire trucks.  Ashland Fire & Rescue comes through with at least one big, bright, red fire engine each year.  I remember years ago seeing a dalmation in the driver’s seat.  In recent years, several youth have had the thrill of riding in the fire engine and waving to the crowd (but not driving the truck).

It wouldn’t be a parade without the fire truck – Ashland Fire & Rescue (2013)
Speaking of fire, Smokey the Bear says “Don’t play with matches.” (2013)
One more truck – Recology recycling truck (2017)

Youth Dance and Gymnastics

Judging from Ashland parades, many young girls (and a few young boys) participate in dance classes and gymnastics.  Seeing their enthusiasm and the moves of the older teens is one of my favorite parts of the 4th of July parade each year.

When you see the photos and video below, or when you see them in the parade, remember that they are doing dance moves and flips on hot pavement, generally on a hot day, for 1.1 miles.

Here are the entertaining youth dancers (2009)
Serious gymnastics skills on hot pavement for a 1.1 mile parade (2016)

YMCA gymnasts in action (2017)

Quirky and Serious

I will close with photos of people who are making a statement.

The non-GMO movement is strong in Ashland (2014)
Make Art Not War (2014)

The Final Parade Entry

For many years, the lively drum and dance group called Samba Like It Hot has been the final group in the parade.  As they go by, people flow out from the sidewalks into Main Street and follow them to the Plaza and then on to  food booths, craft booths and music at the Lithia Park bandshell.

For many years, the Samba Like it Hot drummers and dancers have closed the parade (2012)

Historical 4th of July parade photos: See my article with Ashland 4th of July parade photos from 100 years ago!

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Ashland 4th of July highlights – Part 1

Independence Day in Ashland, Oregon

Independence Day (4th of July) is my favorite day of the year to be in Ashland.  It is coming up in a few days, so I decided to share some of my photos taken through the years.  I hope the photos will trigger fun memories for those of you who have attended multiple parades.

El Tapatio restaurant has beautiful dancers in the parade, in addition to horses, cars and more (2014)

For those who haven’t, this can be an introduction to the quirkiness, fun, community spirit and patriotism of Ashland’s 4th of July.  Or, as one of my San Francisco Bay Area friends put it, while shaking his head and rolling his eyes as one “strange” parade entry after another came by: “Only in Ashland.”

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the citizens of Ashland go all out from early morning until late at night to make this day special.  Fortunately, my wife Kathy loves Ashland’s 4th of July as much as I do.  We are able to walk to the parade from our home, which makes the day a bit simpler than needing to drive.  But the Chamber has parking lots and shuttle buses to simplify life for drivers as much as possible, since a huge crowd always attends the parade.

July 4, 2017 parade – Peter and Kathy

Pre-Parade Activity

Many businesses and community groups in the parade toss candy to the kids along the sidewalk.  This family provided very clear instructions!  They put their pre-parade time to good use.

Some kids use chalk for pre-parade preparation

The day always starts with a 2-mile fun run and a more serious 10K run.  This year the runs will begin at 7:45 am in front of the Ashland library.

The Flyover and Start of Parade

When it’s time for the big parade to start, the crowds wait in anticipation for a jet flyover.  Here are photos of three flyovers, including 2013 when it was a biplane flyover rather than jets.  Not as fast or as loud!  But still fun.  One friend told me the jets might not make it this year for the start of the parade, but I don’t know if that is true or not.

2012 parade – Jet flyover
2017 parade – Two jets flyover
2013 parade – Biplane flyover
Ashland police lead the parade (2010)

The parade begins at Triangle Park and ends just past the Plaza on Water Street.  Ashland motorcycle officers traditionally lead, followed by a Color Guard and then the Ashland City Band.

Color Guard approaching (2017)
Color Guard (2017)
Ashland Chamber of Commerce sponsors the huge parade and all-day celebration of our Independence

Ashland City Band (2014)

Ashland City Band close-up (2008)The parade Grand Marshal is usually a “famous” Ashland citizen.  Last year all veterans and active military were honored as the Grand Marshall.  This year two women who have each volunteered for the Ashland Chamber for more than 20 years will be the Grand Marshals.

2017 parade Grand Marshal – Veterans & Active Service men & women of the Armed Forces

Famous, and not so Famous, Politicians

Because the Ashland parade attracts so many people, Oregon’s United States Senators frequently come all the way to Ashland to be in the parade.  It’s a bit surprising that both Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley have chosen to walk the parade route rather than riding in a fancy car.  Not-so-famous politicians include local Mayors and City Councilors.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has been at the Ashland parade many times (2012)

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has also attended the Ashland parade

Every year, there is a delegation from Guanajuato, Ashland’s sister city in Mexico.  The Guanajuato Queen does ride in a fancy car.  She and the other delegates from Guanajuato will say a few words during the afternoon celebration at the Lithia Park bandshell.

The Guanajuato Queen from Ashland’s sister city Guanajuato, Mexico attends each year (2008)

Eclectic Community Groups in the Parade

Now we find out why people who are used to “regular” parades, like my friend from the S.F. Bay Area, get “thrown for a loop” at the Ashland parade.  The community groups who parade in Ashland are an eclectic bunch.  As evidence, I present the bagpipers and the hula dancers.  That’s why I love this parade so much!

One of my favorite entries is the Bagpipers (2007)

Hula dancers in the parade (2010)

Hyla dancers close-up (2008)

It’s not just our community groups that come up with eclectic parade entries.  So do our religious and spiritual groups.  From Jewish, to Fundamentalist Christian, to Easter Orthodox Christian, to “Only Kindness Matters,” be prepared to be surprised.

Temple Emek Shalom klezmer band (2007)

Jesus in the parade (2007)

Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church (2017)

Spiritual rather than religious (2016)

The American Band College

The American Band College is a summertime Master’s degree program that takes place at Southern Oregon University each year.  We citizens of Ashland get to benefit when this talented group of musicians plays for us, both in the parade and also the evening of July 4th.  They have enough band members to fill up three flat-bed trucks during the parade, so it’s a full sound…complete with truck air-horn accompaniment!  They perform a concert at 8 pm in the evening at Ashland High School football stadium.  It is extra-special because they continue to play at 10 pm throughout the fireworks display, and those who attend the concert have “the best seats in town” to see the fireworks.  In Part 2 of this post, I will tell you other places in town where I have gone to watch the fireworks.

American Band College (2017)
American Band College players (2008)

Peace Corps Volunteers, Belly Dancers and Readers

Here are more eclectic community parade entries, from Peace Corps to belly dancers to fans of the library.  Ashland is home to many readers, many bookstores and a very active library.

Returned Peace Corps volunteers (2009)
Circus Tribal Belly Dancers (2010)
Friends of the Library
Friends of the Library (2013)

I will end Part 1 with an iconic American eagle, courtesy of Wildlife Images, an organization in Grants Pass founded in 1981 to care for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.

Wildlife Images Bald eagle (2007)

In Part 2, we will meet more animals, community groups, dancers and gymnasts.  In addition, I will share a few photos from the afternoon activity that takes place at the Lithia Park bandshell.

This is where real patriotism takes place.  When was the last time you read or heard the entire Declaration of Independence?  If it has been a long time, I recommend that you hear it live in Lithia Park, so you can remember what a radical idea the United States of America was when it was founded.

Historical 4th of July parade photos: See my article with Ashland 4th of July parade photos from 100 years ago!

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