“Happy Fourth! Have fun!”“U.S.A!”“Arf.”(We assume that last was a patriotic comment! We don’t actually speak “bark”–but this four-legged observant at the Great American 4th of July Kids’ Bike Parade, Tuesday morning in Long Beach, seemed as into the festivities as anyone!)
The morning had started with an all-ages, 8 am 4K run and walk, at the beach. Now, it was nearly ten o’clock at the bike path near 1 Granada Avenue.(And disappointingly, thanks to the holiday traffic, we’d missed the 9:30 Kids’ Patriotic Speech Contest which kicked off the event! But we were thankful to have found a parking space in time for the opening ceremony.)Fourth District Councilwoman Suzie Price, who co-sponsored the free community event along with Long Beach “Chief Inspiration Officer” Justin Rudd’s nonprofit 501 (c) Community Action Team, took the mic to wish everyone a “Happy Fourth of July!” She would be leading off the bike parade shortly.Then, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna took the mic. Wishing the community a happy, safe holiday weekend, he drew attention to the police officers waiting to escort the parade. They would be both leading and following the bike riders, to ensure safety.
Police Chief Luna sounded a 4th of July cautionary note, as he concluded his speech.
“Be sure to leave the fireworks to the professionals. (They’re illegal in Long Beach and there are some excellent pyrotechnics shows around instead which you can enjoy),” he said.Then, the scouts stepped up with the flag, and sixteen-year-old Katelyn Hunter, winner of the recent “$1,000 National Anthem Sing-Off”, did the honors.(To say that she nailed it would be an understatement! Bystanders cheered as she repeated the final words.)
Following them were participants on decorated bikes, and in costume. Justin and his volunteers snapped pictures from various locations.
And there were more…And more….And still more Bike Parade participants.(We asked Justin, after the festivities, how many people took part in this year’s “Great American Kids’ Bike Parade. He estimated five hundred–but also said he saw some additional participants, without numbers, show up to ride along as the parade started!)
As the bike parade came to a conclusion, Justin and his volunteers directed riders off the bike path, for winner selection, in the “Best Costume” and “Best Decorated Bike” categories.)At his direction, the young participants lined up on either side of the dock area, smiling for the judges as they made a final walk-through–and a final decision.“All right, let’s give a big round of applause for the Fourth of JU-LYYYY!” Justin exclaimed as the judges returned. Parade participants complied.
“I’d like to give my ten dollars back to Mr. Justin Rudd,” she said, “because of all he does for our community and puts on this great parade every Fourth of July. Thank you!”Happy Fourth of July to Justin Rudd, his nonprofit Community Action Team, all the participants in the Great American Kids’ Bike Parade, the Long Beach community–and beyond! Community is really what it’s all about. Have a safe and star-spangled holiday celebration.