10th anniversary of Red, White and Tahoe Blue delights visitors and locals
Special to the Bonanza
This year’s Red, White and Tahoe Blue festival featured more than 45 family friendly events, with the Village Green as the event’s focal point all weekend long.
Taking a “no fences” attitude this year, the RWTB staff was seen working throughout the holiday ensuring that everyone had a safe and fun time.
Since a lot of the events were free this year, this was the first Fourth of July in a while that this Incline Village local ventured out to see.
Although sometimes finding parking could be an issue, there was a perfect mix of visitors and locals at all of the events. It was also nice to see the local kids so involved — local Boy Scout Troop No. 37 commenced the flag retirement ceremony Friday night, and young Jack Morrison announced the parade Saturday morning.
Here are highlights of just a few events I checked out throughout the July 1-4 weekend:
July 1: Beer and Brats (Aspen Grove)
“We live up here part-time and love to come up here for July 4th because we love the community and all of the events like Beers and Brats,” Anuj Bhatia says.
Bhatia is walking with Bradley Sloan, Emma Murphy and Courtney Murphy out of Aspen Grove with the RWTB brochure and beers in hand with smiles on their faces.
“This is a great place to connect … we bring our dogs, we get together and hang out,” the group enthusiastically adds.
The Murphy sisters and their partners live all over California, but come together in Incline Village for major holidays. They said that the rubber duck races are their favorite event, but the Beer and Brats was fun and “the parade is great.”
“We like the live band, and (this year’s Beer and Brats) was less crowded than in the past,” Emma Murphy says.
“It’s nice to get to know the community; everyone is so welcome,” Bhatia adds. “They tell us about the cool local spots to go.”
After the event, RWTB Chairman Tim Callicrate said that the 2016 edition of Beer and Brats was “a great success.”
“We had over 400 people and it was fun to collaborate again with the Incline Tahoe Foundation,” Callicrate said. “We had a throng of volunteers, a lot of new people, and the beers were incredible. It was fun seeing a lot of younger folks come out.”
He also noted that the 3-on-3 basketball tournament that day was well-received.
“The kids were so excited, and there were a lot more girls’ teams this year,” Callicrate said. “Everyone was really happy; lots of smiles. The day couldn’t have been better — it was nice to see everyone active and enjoying Tahoe.”
July 1: Flag Retirement Ceremony (Hyatt Beach)
That evening after Beer and Brats, a flag retirement ceremony took place on the beach at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.
Just after sunset, Incline Village Boy Scout Troop No. 37 and scouts from other parts of the lake invited the crowd to retire the colors of about 20 flags.
A live bagpiper opened the ceremony, the boy scouts talked about the meaning of the flag and the importance of Independence Day, and there were some tears shed — just as Shelia Leijon predicted beforehand. Around 100-150 people were in attendance.
On another note: A couple walks down the pier at about 8 p.m., stopping to observe the folded flags and growing crowd.
The couple — Mike Gooch and Kelli Oxbrow — is elated because moments earlier, Gooch proposed to Oxbrow, and she said yes.
Oxbrow met Gooch briefly six years ago in North Dakota, but then when Kelli popped up in Gooch’s Facebook “People You May Know” list, they rekindled their relationship.
“I’m the luckiest man I know,” Gooch says.
July 2: 2016 Incline Village Parade
It’s 9 a.m., and I awake to the sound of bagpipers practicing across the street. Clusters of marching bands are preparing for the big 10:30 a.m. event and can be heard throughout the surrounding neighborhoods.
Starting at the 76 Station on Tahoe Boulevard, Incline’s locals and veterans start marching down the main street delighting the audience with candy, cars, floats and music.
At the corner of Northwood and Tahoe boulevards, Incline resident Alfredo Martinez patiently awaits for the parade to start.
“My boss, Curtis McLachlan, is in one of those three cars over there,” Martinez says. “He fought in the Vietnam War.”
Martinez added that he has been going to the RWTB parade for at least four years. He said he planned to take his family to the beach on July 3rd and watch the fireworks on Village Green on Independence Day.
A little farther down, Colorado resident Lasha Crowell is watching the parade with her two sons. Crowell grew up in Incline Village in the ‘70s, and her parents still reside here.
“I came back to celebrate the 4th of July in my hometown,” Crowell says.
She noted that although she visits Incline Village in the summers, this is the first 4th of July in Incline Village that she’s been to in awhile.
“We went to the pancake breakfast this morning and it was good,” she said. “Some of my old high school classmates are firemen now, so it was nice to reconnect.”
Hailey Brooks, Josh Weatherford, and little ones Judge and June Smith are all decked out in patriotic gear sitting in the bleachers. The family lives in Carson City, but came to Incline Village for the weekend to celebrate with their aunt, Shannon Pisano.
Pisano has lived in Incline Village and works in town at First Centennial. Brooks says that they planned to watch the fireworks from Ski Beach on Monday, but their favorite event is their aunt’s house party.
Pisano laughs and says, “My party is my favorite event, but I also enjoy the parade.”
The parade continues with the Color Guard, Reno Mustang Club, veterans and plenty of local businesses and organizations walking, riding, driving and floating down Tahoe Boulevard toward Village Green.
July 4: Firecracker 5K Trail Trek (Incline Middle School)
At 8 a.m., a group is gathered at the Incline Middle School basketball courts for the annual Firecracker Trail Trek, grabbing bibs, snacks and T-shirts.
In all, more than 30 kids were preparing for their half-mile jaunt. At 8:30 a.m., they took off, running around the softball fields. Little Madeleine Patrick was keeping up with the pacer as they meandered through the grass and dirt trail. There were some tears in the back of the group, as one young lady ran out of steam near the end, but most of the kids had a lot of fun.
At 9 a.m. the 5K began with 166 participants across all ages and divisions. The group worked its way up to Tahoe Boulevard, then down Country Club into the woods behind the college.
IVGID Board Chairwoman Kendra Wong and I run alongside each other before she passes me by the Tennis Center.
“This is my fifth year doing the Firecracker run; I love this trail,” Wong said. “It felt like there were more kids this year.”
But Wong’s favorite event of RWTB is the Beer and Brats: “I like to see support for the Incline Tahoe Foundation.”
As runners were treated to fig bars and Popsicles after the race, a group gathered around for the awards. Madeleine Patrick took first place in her division; her brother Nicholas Patrick took second in his; and their dad, Scott Patrick, won his category as well.
Since the family lives in an area of Incline Village with their own private beach, they said they planned on watching Monday’s fireworks from home.
“We stocked up on food at Raley’s early last week and we’ve been eating away at it. We’re like bears hibernating on the fourth of July,” Scott says.
July 4th: Village Green Community Day
Heading to Village Green later in the day, a couple is walking on Incline Way in the same direction. As full-time residents of Incline for over seven years, Leslie and Kevin Graffis ran the Firecracker 5K that morning as well and wanted to see what was going on at the green.
“Parking is a problem. Both of our kids are IVGID lifeguards and it’s been hard getting them to work in time,” Leslie said.
“But it’s good for business; the kids tried to get some chips from Raley’s and there were only one or two selections left, the shelves were empty,” Kevin adds.
Kevin, who served in the Navy for 26 years, heard that the live music was good, so they decided to venture out.
Throughout the day, local bands such as Paul David and the Drivers, Legally Blue Blues Band, and 6PAC played on the main stage.
Incline resident Pete Kelley was sitting with his nephew’s family at some picnic tables enjoying lunch.
“It seems like there is easier access and more entertainment this year,” Kelley says. “(RWTB) has gotten bigger, but it’s more organized and better scheduled.”
Living in Incline Village since 2000, Kelley says that he enjoys seeing how the event has grown over the years and likes watching the Incline resident Michael Milken’s July 3 fireworks because it’s not as crowded on the beach as it is on the Fourth.
“It would be nice if there was a kid-friendly place where we didn’t feel trampled and have to walk so far with a child (he says of getting to Village Green with 2-year-old Gracie),” Kelley said. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
July 4: Rotary Club’s Rubber Duck Races
At 3:30 p.m., the bridge going over the creek next to Village Green is packed with people eagerly awaiting the Rubber Duck Races with tickets in hand.
Throughout the month of June, the Rotary Club of Incline Village sold $10 ducks for a chance to win $100 a heat, or more expensive “platinum” ducks for a chance at a bigger pot.
There were several heats with around 50-100 ducks in each heat. As ducks got held up in eddies, stuck in rocks, or caught on a piece of wood, it truly was a crap-shoot as to which ducks would be the victors. Sometimes even a random flip-flop or tennis ball would get caught in the mix.
John Pizzi and his children were among many families excitedly watching the ducks. The Pizzis live in Marin County most of the time, but have a second home in Incline Village.
“We come up every year for the Fourth of July,” Pizzi says.
His 8-year-old daughter Olivia says that her favorite events are the fireworks and the parade.
The Pizzi family bought two $10 rubber ducks this year.
“Last year we got two platinum ducks, but it didn’t really work out for us,” John said. “We have a lot of family and friends here; just a household of people and lots of kids. It’s nice for everyone to get together.”
Visit redwhitetahoeblue.com/duck-race-results-2016 for full results from this year’s races.
July 4: 10th Annual Fireworks Extravaganza
The 2016 RWTB festival ended with the Air National Guard Band of the West playing against the backdrop of the 10th annual fireworks show.
People could be heard cheering on the Village Green as new sparklers in the shapes of hearts, smiley faces, and swirl bursts complemented a big colorful finale of traditional fireworks favorites above Lake Tahoe.
More cheers ricocheted throughout the town as the Independence Day celebration came to an end at 10 p.m.
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. She loves sharing stories about Lake Tahoe and her community. Have a story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.