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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 12:28 pm | Fair 63º


Music Fills the Air, Fireworks Fill the Skies on the Fourth of July

Santa Barbara County gets into the Spirit of '76 — and costumes, too — for Independence Day

Americans proudly celebrated their heritage Saturday, honoring the birth of the country and those who fought for it with a variety of traditional Independence Day activities that produced smiles throughout Santa Barbara County.

Thousands attended the Fourth of July Pops Concert at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden. On a balmy late afternoon, they brought their folding chairs, their picnic bags and their families to enjoy patriotically themed classical music performed by the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Santa Barbara Choral Society.

“To me, this is the best Santa Barbara event,” concert attendee Marty Jenkins said.

The performance, led by music director Nir Kabaretti and conductor Jo Anne Wasserman, brought rave reviews.

“It’s like the Boston Pops thing, just not Boston,” said John Riley.

Jenkins also enjoyed the music, but said the overall atmosphere combined with the true beauty of the Courthouse is what makes the event so appealing. “What could be better?” he asked.

The Spirit of ’76 Foundation, led by Paul Lamberton, provided a 40-foot-by-60-foot American flag which was used as a backdrop directly above the band on the Courthouse.

The flag, which had draped the back of the Lobero Theatre last month, is similar to the flag hung at the Pentagon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

“What a glorious day to enjoy the Fourth of July,” proclaimed Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, who went on to thank the numerous firefighters in attendance for their heroic duty during the recent wildfires.

Also on hand were Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf; and three aspiring mayoral candidates, Steve Cushman, Justin Michael and Helene Schneider.

Many in attendance had also attended the annual Fourth of July Parade down State Street. The parade is also put on by the Spirit of ’76 Foundation.

Fourth of July fireworks light up West Beach in a photo taken from Stearns Wharf.
Fourth of July fireworks light up West Beach in a photo taken from Stearns Wharf. (Michael Zöllner photo)

Saturday’s parade featured a variety of entertainment, including historical vehicles, Civil War reenactors, a Chinese dragon, a UH-1M Huey helicopter, Corvettes and bagpipers, among others.

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Forties and Sgt. Frank Johnson, both distinguished World War II veterans, drove by and waved to the crowd.

Johnson was attached to the 7th Armored Division and was part of the second wave onto Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion. The Goleta resident was wounded three times during the war.

“It was wonderful,” John Cummings said of the parade. “It had nice length, nice turnout — a beautiful mix.”

The parade would conclude with a good deal of jeering, however, as members of the “Tea Party” movement marched down the street — many with signs critical of President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress. The movement was sparked earlier this year in protest of the $787 billion stimulus bill.

“I don’t agree with them,” Marilyn Anderson said. “But it was fun reading all their signs.” Her husband, John, called the signs “rotten.”

Not everyone agreed, though. Cummings said he thought the constituency had a lot of merit and liked the fact that demonstrators used their free-speech rights to vocalize their opposition to the country’s political leadership.

One “president” who was roundly cheered was Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by reenactor Don Ancell, who proudly walked with his top hat while waving to the crowd.

“Everybody likes Lincoln,” Ancell said. “We bring smiles to everyone’s faces.”

Ancell started the Fourth of July, as many Montecito residents did, at the annual Montecito Firefighters Association’s Pancake Breakfast.

The event was held at Montecito Fire Station 1 and was well attended, evident by a long pancake line and full tables.

“This is something the community really looks forward to,” said Todd Edwards, the association president. “It’s a good opportunity to talk to the community, one on one.”

Denver resident Jeff Switzer thought the event was “fantastic,” and said his children were really excited about the fire trucks and the firefighters.

First-time attendee Franck Noël agreed. “I guess the (kids) had fun, running around with other kids,” he said.

Paty Purguy, the association’s secretary, said the breakfast took two weeks to plan with all the shopping and coordination.

“Without the wives we’d sink,” Edwards said of the support his group received.

The pancakes themselves drew thumbs-up, too.

“They’re always good here,” said Bob Duncan, who coincidentally was also in the parade, dressed up as a Civil War-era Union sergeant, and walking behind Lincoln.

In Goleta, more than 1,000 visitors descended on Rancho La Patera & Stow House for the Goleta Valley Historical Society’s 35th annual Old-Fashioned Fourth of July. Guests enjoyed old-time music, hayrides, pony rides, a magic show, the Vintage Engine Show, classic cars, kids games and much more.

In Solvang, meanwhile, thousands of people enjoyed an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. The day’s events included a traditional parade along Mission Drive, a barbecue in Solvang Park, a Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale concert at Veterans Memorial Hall and a Family Festival at Mission Santa Ines.

Fireworks shows at Santa Barbara’s West Beach, Goleta’s Girsh Park and Solvang’s Mission Santa Ines capped the county’s Independence Day festivities with a spectacular flourish.

Noozhawk intern Kenny Lindberg can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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