The streets of downtown Turlock were lined with thousands of people on Thursday morning, waving American flags while sporting red, white and blue from head to toe. Although the Fourth of July parade and morning celebrations got off to a great start, the 105-degree heat had people heading home early to cool off.
The theme for the 2013 Independence Celebration – put on by the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association and the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau – was “Our American Heritage.” The celebration included the annual downtown Patriotic Parade, a classic car show, street vendors, and a fireworks show that evening at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds.
“I think the celebration started off fantastic,” said Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association Coordinator Dana McGarry. “It looked to me like we had 10,000 people downtown when the parade began, and there was just a hustle and bustle of people enjoying all that the downtown provided to them for the day.”
The downtown parade included approximately 45 entries this year, as opposed to last year’s 80 entries. While entries have had judged categories in years past, this year's parade did not feature any judging for parade entries.
The car show drew 40 registered cars, showcasing a wide variety of classics such as hot rods and vintage vehicles.
Although the daytime celebration downtown was scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event was cut short at 1 p.m. due to the extreme heat conditions.
“The excessive heat just did everyone in and we ended up shutting down two hours early due to the heat,” said McGarry. “By about 1 p.m., we only had about 50 people left downtown. It was just an oppressive heat, so how do you predict that? I think maybe the lesson is to start a bit earlier.”
In spite of the heat, vendors and community members worked together to create a fun and festive atmosphere for all to celebrate the national holiday, McGarry said.
“We’re so thankful that so many people came out anyway, even with the weather,” said McGarry. “And we’re also thankful to the merchants and vendors who started giving people free water to help keep everyone cool and hydrated. It was terrific support.”