Fourth of July festivities

Local celebrations offer something for everyone

Nothing says Independence Day to Mountain View residents like the melodious strains of the San Francisco Symphony accompanied by a booming fireworks display. The symphony will play at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre at 8 p.m. on the Fourth. Conductor Randall Craig Fleischer will lead a program including works by John Williams and Freddie Mercury as well as music from such films as "Rocky" and "Chariots of Fire." The performance will be followed by a fireworks display.

Tickets are $24-$35, although in-the-know Mountain View residents use the coupon in the June 8 issue of the Voice to get some of the 2,000 free lawn seats. The coupon, along with proof of residency, can still be used to get discounted tickets directly from the amphitheater box office. Call the box office at 650-967-4040.

There's still good viewing from outside the amphitheater, says Dan Nitzan, the pyrotechnics operator who orchestrates the annual Shoreline fireworks display.

"The local businesses don't like to have the public in their parking lots," he said. "That's why the golf course is such a good place to watch from. People bring their lawn chairs and picnic blankets and food. ... I can't make enough recommendations to come in via bicycle. Do not drive in."

Chili cook-off

In neighboring Palo Alto, there's a different July fourth tradition. Palo Alto's Mitchell Park is the site of the annual chili cook-off this Fourth of July.

Besides attracting people who just love to cook, the event has also drawn teams from local non-profits. In between dishing up chili, group members can let the public know about their programs and services.

One group taking part this year is Project Safety Net, which was founded in 2009 to implement a community mental-health plan for Palo Alto youth in response to a local cluster of teen suicides. Students will be on the team along with adults.

"The cook-off is a great tradition, and this team that represents so many parts of the community is an embodiment of the spirit of Project Safety Net and the spirit of the cook-off," said Terry Godfrey, the team's head cook.

The annual cook-off, now in its 31st year, has become a widely attended local event. Eighteen teams are expected to compete this year for awards for best booth, best spirit and, of course, best chili in three divisions. At least five new teams will face off against groups of returning chefs, said Minka van der Zwaag, city supervisor of recreation programs.

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. on July 4 at Mitchell Park, 600 E, Meadow Drive. There will also be disco, funk, soul and Latin music by the band The Hitmen; line dancing with Hedy McAdams; food vendors; and face-painting and other kids' activities. The Palo Alto Fire Department will display a fire truck. The annual Chili Chase run will not take place this year.

In an attempt to make the event more eco-friendly, no single-use water bottles will be sold. Commemorative stainless-steel water bottles will be for sale.

Admission is free, with a small fee for chili-tasting kits. Tasting starts at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call 650-329-2366.

Redwood City fireworks are back

In other Fourth of July news, Redwood City's annual fireworks are returning. Since 2009, the $50,000 fireworks display has been a casualty of budget cuts, but this year, through public funds and private donations, it will return to the Port of Redwood City. At 9:15 p.m. the port will launch the show, which can be seen from high points all around the Peninsula as well as from a public viewing area along the waterfront off Seaport Court. For more details, go to 650-365-1825.

The Redwood City festivities begin at 7:30 a.m. on the Fourth with the annual pancake breakfast hosted by the city's fire department, at Station 9, 755 Marshall St. Breakfast costs $6 for adults and $4 for children, benefiting the Redwood City Firefighters Association.

The city's popular parade, now in its 74th year, starts at 10 a.m. with decorative floats traveling the 1.25-mile route. The course starts on Marshall Street at the corner of Winslow Street and ends near Alden Street. This year's theme is "A Salute to Agriculture," offering a look into Redwood City's history.

Meanwhile, the 26th annual Independence Day Festival goes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on and around Broadway downtown. The festival will include arts and crafts booths; food and drinks for sale to benefit non-profit organizations; and a kids' area with a jump house, clowns, face painting and magician Phil Ackerley. Call 650-365-1825.

Also in Redwood City is the Annual Parade Run, a 5K event that benefits the Redwood City Education Foundation. The run starts at 8:45 a.m. at Brewster Avenue and Arguello Street.

For history buffs, the San Mateo County History Museum at 2200 Broadway will host "An Old-Fashioned Fourth." From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can hand-churn ice cream and make crafts from the 1880s including whirligigs and parachutes. The event costs $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for seniors and students. Call 650-299-0104.

In addition, a classic car show will be in Courthouse Square from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 650-368-8212.

Woodside Junior Rodeo

In Woodside, the Woodside Junior Rodeo will host an event for families who are looking for a unusual Independence Day experience. Activities will include roping, women's barrel racing, bull riding, pony rides and a pig scramble, with the doors opening at 8 a.m. and the main events starting at noon. The event will be at 521 Kings Mountain Road. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for children. Call 650-851-8300.

Menlo Park parade

Families with small children might want to check out Menlo Park's low-key, family friendly event. The city's annual 4th of July parade invites anyone with decorated bikes, wagons, scooters and floats to march in a do-it-yourself parade down Santa Cruz Avenue to Burgess Park (701 Laurel St.), where there will be music, games and food. Admission is free and the parade will begin at 11:45 a.m.


Like this comment
Posted by MariaG
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Another great place to watch the fireworks is from the Shoreline Lake Aquatic Center & Cafe.

They have lots of fun stuff happening for the 4th too (e.g., barbecue, all day access passes, new picnic baskets & combos, etc.).

Their last newsletter has the details: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by zr
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

oh i bet the endangered owls love that

Like this comment
Posted by emmecj
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm

that traffic was disgraceful! 10 min of fireworks 2 hours to get out of there.

Like this comment
Posted by Stuck
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 5, 2012 at 8:29 am

Traffic was a 2 hour disgrace. The parking lots were a state of chaos with MVPD (two to a car) sitting in parked cars at the exits. Traffic attendants standing around in groups of 3-4 not doing their job. No one actually working or taking charge. I only saw one attendant briefly trying to direct traffic in the lots MVPD and attendants need to be directing traffic flow in the lots and moving things along on the streets.

Perception is everything. The Chief of Police needs to be called on the carpet for this one BEFORE we start building more apartments!

Like this comment
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Shoreline is a great venue but its infrastructure has not kept pace with the time. Add in Google and lots of pedestrians and it becomes an accident waiting to happen. I was surprised that no one was killed during the 4th of July exit stampede.

There are several things that should / MUST be done before next year's fireworks display: a) the sidewalks need to be widened, flatted (get rid of the tree root damage) and well lit; b) there needs to be a PLAN for getting vehicles out of the parking lots as quickly and smoothly as possible; c) The sprinklers have come on during the exit rush every single year for the past eight 4th of July concerts soaking pedestrians leaving the show. Somebody should coordinate this.

The bottom line: Until somebody steps up and oversees the entire event it will not get better and somebody might / will get very badly hurt. It's better to pay to fix things up now than to pay a lawyer and plaintiff's damages. Google . . . are you listening?

Like this comment
Posted by Debra McGibbon
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

My husband and I have attended the Shoreline 4th of July Fireworks program for more than 10 years. We learned after the first year not to park in the official parking lots, because it took so long to exit after the program. We usually park, then walk a good distance, because it ensures a quicker exit. In the past, Mountain View police, along with what appeared to be Shoreline employees, controlled the intersections along Shoreline Blvd after the concert, and all seemed congested but orderly. Something was terribly amiss this year...the traffic control was left to young people with orange vests--I don't even know if they were Shoreline employees--trying to control the intersections, ordering pedestrians not to cross at certain intersections on what are public streets. They simply do not have the authority to do this! They were forcing folks to walk on dark, uneven sidewalks that were being watered by a sprinkler. Many people decided to walk in the bike lane, as at least they could see where they were going. As we walked back to our car and reached the Pear Ave. light, we finally saw six MV motorcycle officers, just sitting and watching. I expressed my concern that such young people were left to control such massive amounts of both auto and pedestrian traffic. The officer did not speak, but raised his eyebrows and shook his head, and the message I got was that he did not care for the situation either. What happened? Does anyone know why the MVPD was not in charge of the intersections? There are safe ways to handle Shoreline when people leave such an event, but it was definitely not a safe situation last Wednesday night.

Like this comment
Posted by Al
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Not suprised that the MVPD did not take charge to make sure that things ran smooth. I gave up on that venue a few years back and I live on shoreline!

All I ask of our police officers is please use turn signals.
Follow the rules you swore to uphold.

Like this comment
Posted by Unhappy4th
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

We too gave up going to see our hometown fireworks this year due to lack of safety and, I think, lack of respect for spectators. People are treated like hoards of angry mobsters, when the crowd is mostly made up of nice families. We always parked on the other side of the 101 bridge then walked down to the show. Last year, I twisted my ankle walking on a dark, uneven sidewalk. I was appalled at the sprinklers spraying pedestrians and the rudeness of the guards in the corporate lots. The whole experience was an insult to our national holiday. Sad.

Like this comment
Posted by next time walk
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm

The city just build a beautiful new pedestrian path and bridge from Middlefield, over Hwy 101, to the Shoreline Amphitheater. Distance is about 1.5 mile, which is a half hour walk for most people. Much more pleasant than fighting traffic for 2 hours.

Like this comment
Posted by Unhappy4th
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Next time walk: I've walked to this event for years and got fed up with the condition of the walkways in and around the venue. They are terrible: poorly lit to completely dark, unevenly paved due to tree roots popping up, sprinklers shooting water right onto the walkways, poorly trained crossing guards causing overcrowding and confusion at intersections, traffic jams all around filling the air with noxious fumes. It is not pleasant at all.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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