This Independence Day, community members are invited to celebrate the birth of our nation at a free, family-friendly concert in Lions Wayside Park.
The 20th annual event will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. and is produced by two local nonprofits, Pleasanton Community Concert Band and CelebratingJuly4.org. Attendees are invited to bring picnics to the park at 4401 First St.
While the permanent title of the annual event is "Celebrating Freedom and its Evolution since the Revolution," this year’s theme is "American Giants: Bernstein, Douglass, and Baseball."
"This year's program came together last fall when an alumni magazine mentioned some significant anniversaries happening in 2018, including Leonard Bernstein's centennial and Frederick Douglass' bicentennial," said Bob Williams, conductor of the community band. "Both of these men were giants in their chosen fields, and selecting music and words to place them in the context of evolution of America’s freedom was very easy."
Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne will be welcoming the patriotic folks as the program begins, and Pat Bosma, as Lady Liberty, will lead a singalong of our national anthem. There will also be music played from Bernstein's "West Side Story" as well as "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and several other traditional patriotic pieces.
The event will also include a tribute to those who have ever served in the military and their families, as the band plays the anthems of each branch of the service. American Legion Post 237 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 will provide the color guard, and Boy Scout Troop 908 will assist with the set-up for the program.
The audience is encouraged to sing along to "Happy Birthday" to the United States of America. In spirit of keeping up with the event's baseball theme, children attending will be given boxes of Cracker Jacks or -- for those with peanut allergies -- wooden tokens to trade for soft ice cream cones at Meadowlark Dairy.
This year's masters of ceremonies will be Ken McDonald and Les Duman. Additionally, the event founder W. Ron Sutton will officially honor the 2018 recipients of the Ed Kinney Community Patriot Award, Herb Ritter and Nancy and Gary Harrington. The award is named in memory of Pleasanton's former mayor Ed Kinney, the first master of ceremonies for the event.
"The all-volunteer event is a fun way to make sure that we remember Fourth of July for more than fireworks and barbecues," Sutton said. "We celebrate our shared heritage -- and still have time for other activities in the evening."