Fremont celebrates Independence Day

Everyday heroes marched down Paseo Padre Parkway as about 18,000 people cheered them on Monday during Fremont’s Fourth of July Parade.

Jesse Schaa, president of the Fremont 4th of July Parade nonprofit that organized the event, said attendance matched last year’s, when the patriotic event took place on a Saturday.

“We’re happy with that,” he said of the turnout, noting that Monday parades historically tended to draw smaller crowds. The weather was perfect and the sound system brought rave reviews, Schaa added.

Under the theme “Everyday Heroes,” the parade featuring 67 entries began at Stevenson Boulevard and ended a mile away at Capitol Avenue.

Among the colorful floats, marching bands, four large Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade-type helium balloons, antique vehicles, drill teams and other specialty units, the Irvington Business Association entry paid a special tribute to the city’s police and firefighters, invoking the “Fremont Strong” slogan that reverberated throughout the city following the shooting of two police officers on June 1. Both injured officers are recovering.

A new helium balloon — cartoon character Underdog — was an instant hit with parade-goers, according to Schaa.

Fremont native Cathryn Flores, an Irvington High School junior, sang the National Anthem and a flyover of Beechcraft airplanes followed.

In keeping with the parade theme, members of the Candle Lighters charitable organization served as the parade’s honorary grand marshal. Founded in 1969, Candle Lighters has about 120 volunteers dedicated to raising funds for nonprofit groups and community-based projects in the Tri-Cities.

Nancy Schroder, a Candle Lighters member for a quarter century, said 29 members participated in the parade.

She said the grand marshal recognition is “definitely the biggest honor” for the Candle Lighters in her years with the all-volunteer organization.

Contact Julian J. Ramos at jramos@bayareanewsgroup.com or (510) 661-9920 or follow him on twitter.com/julianjramosmp.