More than 80 entries traveled through Solvang on Tuesday to celebrate a star-spangled Fourth of July as thousands of spectators, including Central Coast residents and tourists from farther away, lined the sidewalks.
The Fourth of July Parade, organized by the Solvang Rotary Club, was one of the largest, announcer Allan Jones said before entries began making the trek along Mission Drive.
In keeping with the theme “A Star-Spangled Celebration,” participants sported red, white and blue clothing, waved flags and rode in decorated vehicles of all types.
While the Independence Day patriotic procession typically includes people from across the Santa Ynez Valley, this year’s parade also included a number of participants from the Santa Maria and Lompoc valleys.
The parade’s Sweepstakes Award went to the Flat Fender Friends entry, which carried military veterans, including World War II-era pilot James Kunkle, in restored vehicles.
“The presence of these service members make this parade a truly star-spangled celebration,” Jones said.
Alfred and Kathleen Holzheu rode in a place of honor as grand marshals for the parade. His father founded El Rancho Market, and the son has carried on the business and the family’s history of volunteering for the community.
Additionally, philanthropist Virgil Elings appeared as the special honored guest of the Solvang Rotary Club, recognizing his longtime support of various community causes plus ownership of the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum.
In other entries, politicians and Pirates athletes joined dancers and gymnasts with candy tossed to the spectators or handed out American flags. Participants on a few entries sprayed spectators with water.
Other parade award recipients were:
Best Use of Parade Theme — Alisal Ranch
Most Patriotic — Daughters of the American Revolution La Purisima and Refugio Del Cielo Chapters
Most Original — Hi Way One Hooligans
Most Amusing — Solvang Skate Shop
Most Unique — Zaca Coffee Company
Most Creative — Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital
Best Band — Santa Ynez Valley Jazz Band
Best Singing Group — Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
Best Singing: Single — Andaluz Santa Cecilia
Best Family Group — The Urban Clan & “52 Blue”
Best Church Group — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Best Senior Group — Solvang Senior Center
Best Animal Group — New Generation Cowgirls
Best Wagon Group — Summerset Farms
Best Wagon: Single — Steve Berman’s Mule Wagon with Alice Olla’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Best Automobile Group — Vapor Trail Vettes
Best Automobile: Single — Michael & Elizabeth Snyder’s 1964 Cadillac de Ville
Best Automobile: Restored — Paula Albrect’s 1961 Patriotic Corvette
Best Automobile: Antique — Floyd Keinath’s Ford Model A Coupe
Best Automobile Antique Group — Santa Maria Model A’s Ford Club
Best Truck — Tom Davidson’s 1947 Diamond T Truck
Best Fire Engine — Summerset Farms
Best Tractor — Linquiti’s 1949 Farmall Cub
Best Equestrian Group — Santa Maria Elk’s Lodge 1538
Best Viking Ship — Vikings of Solvang
Best Color Guard — American Legion Post #160
Best Road Apple Crew — Santa Ynez 4-H Club
Best Sport Group — Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Football Team
Best Walking Group — Garcia Dance Studio
Best Dancing Group — Vandenberg Space Force Base Jets Gymnastics
Most Energetic — Gymnastics North
Best Group for a Cause — Veggie Rescue
Best School Group — Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Water Polo Team
Best Youth Group — Santa Ynez 4-H Club
Best Audience Participation – Bethania Preschool and After-School Program
Best Candy Thrower — Dave Bemis, Los Olivos Rotary Club president
In addition to the parade, the Santa Ynez Valley’s celebration included a festival and fireworks show Tuesday afternoon and evening at Mission Santa Ines with food trucks and musical entertainment before the pyrotechnics.
The Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club organizes the event.
Solvang served as the home to the North County’s only official fireworks show after Lompoc and Santa Maria skipped this year, choosing to hold smaller daytime celebrations.