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Our Backward Fourth

July 2, 2014

The Fourth of July is upon us. 

In our (most humble) opinion, no one stirs up old-timey, small-town tradition better than we do on the Eastside, from the hilariously great parade in Independence in the South to the Bridgeport wing-a-ding in the North.
 
Naturally, our own eyes are on Mammoth, which this year promises to be all backward and charming.
 
First of all, the parade route has been reversed from years past. It will start at the junction of Chateau Road and Old Mammoth Road at 11 a.m. sharp, wend its way along the boulevard to Main Street, and then head uphill to the junction of Minaret Road.
 
We have no idea how this is going to work, but we’ll find out.
 
Also backward in this year’s parade is the theme “Endless Summer.”
 
To commemorate this “endless summer” idea, the Chamber of Commerce has tapped one of our biggest winter sports stars, Olympic Ski Cross racer John Teller, to lead the parade as Grand Marshal.
 
In the iconic Freedom Mile Run (10:30 a.m. start at Minaret and Old Mammoth Road), this year will include a pair of new divisions: the snowboard boot division (!) and a 0-3 year-old age group. Who is the fastest toddler/snowboarder in town? We’re about to find out.
 
The Pops in the Park will go off as usual in Mammoth Creek Park, and old familiar faces will show up.That would include former schools Superintendent Rich (“We live in PARADISE!”) Boccia, who once more will serve as the float coordinator.
 
The floats are to gather at the Equestrian Center across from Mammoth Creek Park, easing the parking load on the so-called “Sierra Valley” neighborhood. 
 
Naturally the whole she-bang ends in the evening at Crowley Lake. That’s a different kind of parade altogether, in which Mammoth’s residents and visitors leave town en masse to the annual sounds of town merchants, gnashing their teeth as the dollars float away.
 
Speaking of the Crowley Fireworks, the town this year slipped them in, largely because of a group of civic-minded, fund-driving citizens, who raised $10,000 to help cover the costs of the $28,000 display by Souza Pyrotechnics.
 
One other donor contributed $5,000 all by himself, while the town somehow found another $10,000 for the show in its bare-bones budget, not counting the cost of staff time (largely the work of Recreation Stuart Brown, a red-blooded … Australian), plus the costs of permits.
 
The rest of the costs are to be raised from gate fees at Crowley.
 
Meanwhile, in Bridgeport, there is the annual rodeo, and one of the most adorable parades anywhere.
At last year’s parade, up and down the redesigned Main Street, Bridgeport floaters tossed candy to the kids, but ran into a problem when the kids mobbed the street, creating a traffic hazard as the floats turned back around.
 
This year, Bridgeport floaters have been asked to toss candy from one side only, thereby saving high anxiety from the parents, not to mention injury to the tykes.
 
The Bridgeport Fireworks will go off, as usual, over the Bridgeport Reservoir, and if casual visitors were to be caught comparing them to Crowley Lake’s show, you can bet they’ll get a pyrotechnic earful.
 
Back in Mammoth, the town is jammed at a projected occupancy of 82 percent (not counting campgrounds), with a weekend filled with stuff to do.
 
There is a full slate at the Village (the Chihuahua Races always catch our attention), to the backcountry trails.
 
So here’s to Mammoth! Here’s to the Fourth of July!
 
And if people think we have things a little bit backward this year, just tell ’em to remember the actual Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia … on the Second of July.
 
Honest.
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