Life in our mountain town: The Fourth of July – a fine time in Truckee | SierraSun.com
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Life in our mountain town: The Fourth of July – a fine time in Truckee

by Karen Shaffer

I absolutely love the way Truckee celebrates the Fourth of July. In the 20 years I’ve lived here, I’ve only been out of town twice during the holiday. Being elsewhere pales in comparison.

The reason I feel so strongly about how this holiday is celebrated here has to do with the parade. Even before we had children, I used to drag my husband to the parade. To me, it characterizes small town America at its very finest.

I have many rolls of pictures of the parade, which attests to my love of this event. My family looks at these pictures and reminds me we really don’t need another year’s worth of shots of the ski-toting, Sorel-wearing Truckee River drill team, or of Smokey the Bear.

Could I be the only one who gets excited when Smokey the Bear comes riding down Donner Pass Road in the big green U.S. Forest Service truck? He is a fitting representative for our town considering we sit squarely in the midst of the Tahoe National Forest, and considering the huge Martis Fire. If it were up to me, he would probably be the Grand Marshall of the parade year after year.

The floats aren’t fancy. In fact, the ones that really steal my heart are those that have either bales of hay for kids to sit on, or a pine tree tied down as decorative greenery.

One of my favorite memories is when I used to watch the parade from downtown. There was a small rag-tag marching band consisting of maybe a dozen or so adult members.

They enjoyed themselves so much that after passing through downtown, instead of turning toward the railroad tracks and heading with the rest of the parade up to the Regional Park, they looped around Jibboom Street and slipped back into the parade for an encore performance.

I don’t get too excited about the Corvettes from Reno, but having a few entries that you care for less makes the ones you really enjoy all the more anticipated.

For instance, the Bernese Mountain dogs with red and white flowers draped around their necks are a sight to behold. And I even like the family reunions that get into the parade every few years. No one in town seems to know these people who are all wearing T-shirts that say “Smith Family Reunion,” but somehow it seems appropriate that since they chose to have their family reunion at Donner Lake, they might as well march in our parade. So we cheer and wave as they pass by.

One year the Town of Truckee rolled out its brand new super-duper massive black snow blower. As it moved past the group I was sitting with, everyone started yelling things like “Hey, I’ve never seen that go by in my neighborhood!”

I guess this is why I love the Fourth of July parade so much. The moods are light and the jokes fly and there’s a sense of familiarity that can only be found when you live in a small town like Truckee.

As the parade comes to a close, familiar faces walk along the sides of the parade route canvassing for donations to the fireworks. They personally invite you to come to the fireworks that night – and as you dig in your pocket to throw some money in the bucket you know the parade is about to end, but you also know the day continues, ending with fireworks at West End Beach at dark.

There’s something about waving at people you know, and even waving at the Smith family – none of whom you recognize – that just plain feels good. There’s something about giving your children flags to wave, and celebrating our country’s birthday by attending the Truckee Fourth of July Parade that seems to embody what living in a small town is all about.


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