Candle Lighters to lead Fremont Fourth of July parade

Members of the Candle Lighters charity group will be the honorary grand marshals leading this year’s Fremont Fourth of July Parade past an expected 18,000 onlookers lined up along Paseo Padre Parkway and other downtown streets.

The two-hour pageant, set to the theme of “Everyday Heroes,” begins 10 a.m. Monday at Paseo Padre Parkway and Stevenson Boulevard and ends a mile away at Capitol Avenue.

The Candle Lighters is a nonprofit founded in 1969 that today has about 120 volunteers who raise funds for other nonprofits and community-based organizations in the Tri-Cities. In October, the group organizes the annual Ghost House at the Chadbourne Carriage House in Fremont’s Williams Historical Park — its only fundraiser of the year.

Parade organizers annually pick a nonprofit to honor as the grand marshal, said Jesse Schaa, president of the group Fremont 4th of July Parade, which organizes the event. Past honorees include the Fremont Symphony Orchestra and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

As for this year’s “Everyday Heroes” theme, Schaa said it applies to everyone who inspires or motivates someone in a special way.

“Everybody and anybody has an everyday hero and everyone is different,” he said. In the Candle Lighters’ case, it has been contributing to the betterment of the Tri-Cities, especially Fremont, for nearly 50 years without much recognition, he added.

“That’s what a hero is,” Schaa said.

Sandy Strong, Candle Lighters’ president, said group members have marched in the parade for many years and are excited that this time they’ll have their own float, sponsored by Fremont Chevrolet.

“Our whole membership was thrilled,” Strong said of being named grand marshals.

She said Candle Lighters has given more than $1 million to community groups through grants since its inception. Members meet several times a year to consider funding requests, she added.

One of two original members still active with the group, Dorothy Pegueros, 81, said it’s an honor for the group to be this year’s grand marshal.

“As we are coming into our 47th year, it’s a joy to witness this moment,” she said. “Not just for us longtime members, but for all the Candle Lighters that have enjoyed serving our community past and present. There have been many changes throughout the years, but one thing stays the same, and that is the wonderful citizens of Fremont who we are committed to serving.”

Sumi Lampert, 87, the other active original member, said she will be out of town for the holiday.

At 9:45 a.m. Monday before the parade begins, Fremont native Cathryn Flores, an Irvington High School junior, is slated to perform the national anthem. A flyover of Beechcraft airplanes by pilots of the “Beech Boys” group will follow.

Schaa said there will be 68 entries in this year’s parade, six more than in last year’s. Among the colorful floats, marching bands, four large Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade-type helium balloons, antique vehicles, drill teams and other specialty units will be a special tribute to Fremont’s emergency responders. An Irvington Business Association entry will salute police and firefighters in a “Fremont Strong” theme, which became a popular slogan in the city and hashtag on social media following the shooting of two police officers on June 1. Both officers are recovering.

Sections of Stevenson Boulevard, Paseo Padre Parkway and State Street will close as early as 7 a.m. so booths can be set up. Attendees are asked to avoid parking in private lots close to the parade route. Spectators along the route can’t wear backpacks.

Anyone who sees suspicious behavior or suspicious situations during the parade is asked to call the Fremont Police Department at (510) 790-6800, option 3; text a tip to Fremont police to 888777 followed by a message; or email In an emergency, dial 911.

For more information on the parade or to download the parade’s mobile app, visit Volunteers are needed for the privately-funded parade, Schaa said. Forms can be downloaded or filled out at

In observance of Independence Day, city offices in Fremont will be closed Monday. There will be no Fremont City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Several major roads in Fremont will be closed during the Fourth of July Parade. Stevenson Boulevard between Civic Center Drive and Paseo Padre Parkway will close at 7 a.m. All other roads will close from approximately 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Drivers should expect heavy traffic and delays in the area during the event.
Anticipated road closures are:

  • Stevenson Boulevard between Civic Center Drive and Paseo Padre Parkway
  • Paseo Padre Parkway between Mowry Avenue and Stevenson Boulevard
  • Capitol Avenue between Liberty Street and Paseo Padre Parkway
  • Hastings Street between Capitol and Mowry avenues
  • Walnut Avenue between Liberty Street and Civic Center Drive
  • Liberty Street between Beacon and Capitol avenues

Contact Julian J. Ramos at or (510) 661-9920 or follow him on