My First Orinda 4th of July Parade and Festivities Deliver on All Counts

    I’ve been with The Orinda News team for 23 months now and, due to pandemic delays, was not able to attend Orinda’s past 4th of July parades until now.
    Boy, was I pleasantly surprised and thrilled beyond measure. My excitement was about as high as the day’s talented stilt-walkers, to say the least.
    I was one of the judges at the pop-up tent covering the announcer’s table with our Executive Editor Sally Hogarty, Audio Technician Steven Kroeger of Brentwood, Announcer Scott Butler and the famous Steve Hardwood perched at my side.
    Harwood enjoyed a stop-and-hug moment with his grandkids, daughter and son-in-law while announcing and said they are new Orindans, from Michigan and would love some Orinda friends! I thought that was cute.
    I understand announcer Bill Cosden was at the other end of town, Theatre Square, doing his thing.
    I snapped over 180 photos on my android in between judging parade participants, but don’t be too impressed, since our newest photographer, Jeff Heyman, captured over 2,700! He was everywhere. Looking at some of his photos, I got the feeling he was Superman.
    I had the pleasure of elbow-bumping some Orindans we write about on a regular basis, including Mayor Dennis Fay. I also spent time with Social Media Coordinator Kaylee Deland of Livermore, and District Representative for Congressman DeSaulnier.
    I met with Deland in the Library Plaza where the pancake breakfast was held. While sipping on a cup of coffee with the cutest scalloped purse I ever obsessed over, Deland said she was delighted to represent the Congressman at Orinda’s 36th Annual 4th of July parade since DeSaulnier had three other events that day.
    “I’m enjoying spending time with everybody here,” she said, before revealing where she bought her purse.
    I walked around asking parade-goers and volunteers why they attended this year’s parade in Orinda.
    “It’s fun,” said Michelle Shen of Orinda, an eleventh-grade student currently attending a school in Hong Kong. She wanted to make sure I knew she previously attended Campolindo High School.
    Shen worked the Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary coffee station with her friend Isabelle Culinco, an upcoming ninth grader at Campolindo, who said, “It’s fun to meet people here.”
    It was a joy to meet “the” Bobbie Landers and her regal, approachable and pet-loving dog Tigger.
    “I love honoring the fact that we are all fortunate to live in this great country,” said Landers, who, after enjoying the pancake breakfast, watched from the sidelines, her daughter Merrily walk with her puppy Whitney and daughter Holly, march with the All-Volunteer Orinda Pick-up Marching Band, playing her Mellophone.
    Parade attendee Aurora Betancourt from San Pablo, said “We came for the pancake breakfast, and it brings the community together. We are grateful that we live in a country where we can come together like this, as a community.”
    I bought five children’s books at the Orinda Friends of the Library book sale for $2 each (hardbound covers, in mint condition) for my two grandkids, and a couple of paperback books for me, one titled, “Women Know Everything!” It’s a collection of over 3,000 quips, quotes and brilliant remarks from famous women.
    I met Anna, Isaac and Form Miller, who sat directly across from the band, and said they’ve lived in Orinda for 10 years and love attending the annual parade.
    “It’s so entertaining and quaint, and we love the band,” said Anna Miller.
    Kamran, Kristen, son Callan and daughter Delaney Javandel said they’ve been attending Orinda’s parades since 2012.
    “We love coming for the breakfast and seeing all our friends,” said Kamran. “We love pretty much everything.”
    Delaney added, “And my friend Monica is coming!”
    Phil and Cathleen Hoffman sat directly across from the judges’ table to enjoy the parade with their white lab Tubbs, who would not allow “dad” Phil out of his sight for one second.
    “We live in Moraga, but we come for the tradition, the people, the hometown feel and the music too!” said Phil.
    I was impressed by the parade participants, their decorations and patriotic energy, and as numerous attendees said, the overall hometown feel of community and spirit. It felt great to celebrate with everyone after two long years of the lingering pandemic.
    I drove home that day with a smile on my face and joy in my heart, sappy and trite, but true.
    Orindans, with all the extensive, behind-the-scenes work of volunteers who made this extremely involved and intricate event possible, really know how to put on a beautiful, traditional 4th of July parade and celebration.

Charleen Earley can be reached at editor@theorindanews.com.

(Charleen Earley, Phtographer)
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