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Independence Day festivities abound in Auburn

By: Kirsten Read Journal Correspondent
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On Independence Day, one can be sure to be surrounded by cheering as parades go by, the explosive sensation of fireworks, the sweet smoky smell of barbecues and a general sentiment of summertime bliss. This Fourth of July in Auburn will prove to be no different. Auburn Family 4th is a local celebration that embodies “tradition and fun in the foothills,” according to its website. It is held annually at the Gold Country Fairgrounds, and is presented by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. According to Renee Berg, entertainment chair of the Auburn Family Fourth Committee, this year’s event is sure to provide fun entertainment for the whole family, including a bounce house, rock climbing wall, family picnic, live music, a Little Miss and Mister Firecracker Pageant, a parade, and fireworks. This year will include more live entertainment than in previous years. “Unlike previous years, there will be continuous amazing local talent for all to enjoy from 5 p.m. until the fireworks start at 9:40 p.m.,” Berg said. This includes Evan Zee, 20, a local singer/songwriter who graduated from Forest Lake Christian in 2009 and is now attending Sierra College. Anna Lisa Poganski is an Auburn resident who will be singing patriotic music to celebrate the day. Fox Trot Mary, a local blues band and the self-titled “saviours of soul,” will also be performing, led by Tim Brisson and daughter Nikki Brisson, a bass player and Placer High School student. “I’m just excited about sharing Fourth of July with the people of Auburn and celebrating our freedom with some awesome music in an awesome community,” Zee said. The parade, put on annually by the Auburn Lions Club, is expected to have 90-110 participants this year. It will run roughly from 7-7:40 p.m. and start at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. “I enjoy everything about it,” said Jack Morris, chairperson of the Parade Planning Committee of the Lions Club. Some recurring participants include the Tea Party, Budweiser Clydesdales, Boy Scout troops from all over Gold Country that lead pledge of allegiance, and an airplane fly-over at about 7:10 p.m. One of the new entries this year that wasn’t included last year is the Ophir Prison Marching and Kazoo Band and Temperance Society, a band of about 40 men. “They are an important addition to our parade,” Morris said. “They march and do crazy antics in the streets. They have marched for years in Nevada City and Grass Valley, but are coming to Auburn this year instead.” According to Morris, Auburn Family Fourth is a great way to spend some time with your family and get to know your community. “It’s a family event to celebrate the signing of the Constitution, a day when people can enjoy something free. It’s peaceful, fun, and when the parade concludes, inside the Gold Country Fairgrounds, there’s a musical concert followed by free fireworks,” Morris said. Auburn Family Fourth is not the only local event to celebrate Independence Day. Old Town Auburn’s 16Fourth annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July is another event sure to please local families. “Old Town Auburn has a long history of bringing family friendly events to the district. ‘Uncle Sam’ (aka Peter VanBeckum) inherited the Fourth of July celebration from Richard Yue who retired several years ago. Famous now are the old-fashioned games of long ago, which include three-legged races, potato sack races and a watermelon-eating contest to name a few. Prizes abound and everybody gets to take home something, whether it be a trinket or a fun experience. It’s going to be hot but the morning should be pleasant and it’s a great way to kick off your Fourth of July activities in Old Town,” said Linda Robinson, Old Town Business Association Representative and owner of Sun River Clothing Co. Peter VanBeckum, who will be organizing this event for his fourth year, is keeping the small-town charm of Old Fashioned Fourth of July. He inherited the undertaking when people showed up for the event one year only to realize that past organizer Richard Yue, owner of the former Shanghai Bar, was no longer organizing the event. VanBeckum sent someone for a piñata, got some eggs from Bootleggers for a messy egg toss, and improvised. “It fell into my lap, but I don’t mind, it’s the coolest gig,” VanBeckum said. Nothing about this day is high-tech. He still uses Yue’s bladeless blender megaphone, tree branches for the barrel hoop races, and a skinny branchless tree that was cut down years ago for the greased pole climb, which involves an American flag stapled with money and a can of Crisco. The event is characterized by chaos, childishness, and humor. Kid’s games begin at 9 a.m. after the pancake breakfast hosted by the Auburn Fire Department, which starts at 7 a.m. in Bootlegger’s parking lot. Events include “Run with Scissors,” a race in which kids challenge every rule by racing with giant plastic scissors, shoe races in which all of the children’s’ shoes are thrown into a shopping cart and rolled down the block so they have to find their shoes and put them on before they race back, and a watermelon eating contest, where the contestants are not finished until there is no red left. “The rules are pretty loose,” VanBeckum said. “Basically, there are no rules. Everything about this is homegrown. It’s hokey but it’s fun. Everybody’s involved and engaged, and there are lots of little kids running around screaming. My favorite part is seeing it come together as a volunteer effort.”