Decorations, Photos, Noise at Noon – Get Ready for July 4 Celebrations

(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Heeding a call to decorate houses, mailboxes, fences and even pets for this year’s Fourth of July celebration, an Orinda front yard takes on a patriotic theme.

    Drive anywhere around Orinda and you’ll be greeted with a flowing sea of red, white and blue.
    In this year’s Fourth of July celebration, entitled Together (apart), individuals, families, neighborhoods and businesses have gone all out to honor and celebrate local essential workers, the official Grand Marshalls of the 2020 Best Hometown Parade.
    According to Diane Lautz, Fourth of July committee co-chair, preparations for the big day started in early June as homes, mailboxes and fences donned festive, patriotic decorations. Homemade signs honoring front-line workers, retail staff, restaurant employees, teachers, delivery personnel and volunteer shoppers are visible everywhere.
    There is still time to be included in an online photo gallery hosted by The Orinda Association, although the Virtual Decorating Contest ended July 1. Decorating possibilities are endless and include homes, mailboxes, fences, tree trunks, driveways… Costumes? Yes, for individuals, families and, of course, the furry pet. There is a special category to honor the 2020 Grand Marshals with homemade signs.
    “Who are your heroes during this time of crises and challenges? Let them know you care,” said Lautz.
    Photos may be submitted to and will be included in the photo gallery at
    Registration for the annual Virtual Run for a Reason is open through July 4 at

July 4 Schedule of Events:
10:30 a.m.
Video Celebration
    Created and narrated by Steve Harwood, the voice of Orinda, this 12-minute video features highlights of past July 4 Best Hometown parades. The link is available at

11 a.m.
Virtual Decorating Contest
    View the Virtual Reverse Parade Decorating Contest online in the Photo Gallery. There is a plethora of patriotic themes and colors on homes, mailboxes, fences, vehicles, pets and people, along with Thank You signs to honor local, essential workers/heroes, who are collectively the Grand Marshall for 2020.

Noon-12:05 p.m.
Noise at Noon
    To celebrate local essential heroes, Orindans are encouraged to make some noise. A lot of noise. Beat a drum. Ring a cow bell. Bang on pots and pans. Honk a horn. Church bells will ring. Sirens will blare.
    Making noise to rally for a cause dates back to World War I when the Liberty Bell was used as a symbol of America to encourage people to buy war bonds. Its use included ringing it in Philadelphia on the telephone to be heard in San Francisco to inaugurate the phone lines’ completion.
    According to Smithsonian magazine, in their April 2017 article “Saved by the Bell,” by Stephen Fried, “As the dominant symbol of the war effort, the sounding of the Liberty and other bells (and whistles where there were no bells) became the Pavlovian cue to do the right thing — buying war bonds, enlisting in the military or raising money for the Red Cross.”
    “In the tradition of ringing the Liberty Bell to call Americans to do the right thing as well as paying tribute to local essential workers/heroes, we have included a noon citywide time to make some noise,” said Jill Gelster, Fourth of July committee member.

12:15 p.m.
Front-yard barbecues and picnics to show camaraderie and community
    Break out the grill, tables and chairs to celebrate July 4 traditions, old and new, with family, friends and neighbors at a safe distance.

    Looking forward, 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of The Orinda Association, which has put on the July 4 Best Hometown Parade, for decades. The association and its Fourth of July committee already are in the planning stages for a bigger-than-ever celebration.

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