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As always, the day ended with a terrific fireworks show. Click photo for larger image.

The weather couldn't have been better, the hot dogs tastier, the fireworks more thrilling. OK, the parade could have moved along a little faster, but let's agree: Rancho Murieta sure knows how to celebrate July 4. We've got the whole day covered, with nearly 400 photos too.

Rancho Murieta has been doing a July 4 celebration for 35 years now, and it has settled into a happy rhythm. The day starts in the cool of the morning, with runners and breakfast, warms up with the parade, gets toasty with the carnival and cools down in the evening before the all-American finale.

Look around and you'll see hugs for friends and family, kids desperately chasing penny candy tossed from parade vehicles, strangers being friendly ... and a sense of community. What a nice place! Still, we could have done without the parade's water-fight hostilities or the person working the parade route with political literature for November, but that's just us; maybe you're pleased to start July 4 with a dousing and a lawn sign for your candidate.

Rancho Murieta punches way above its weight when it comes to the fireworks show. Year after year, it's an absolute delight. The 2016 edition was no exception.

But that's how the day ends. Let's start at the beginning.

Fun Run

Red square Gallery: Six photos from the Fun Run

Kids Fun Run

The kids get a chance to run too. Click photo for larger image.

The 36th Fun Run starts the day with a rush -- sneakers pounding 5K of asphalt as the runners loop around the community. This year's adult winners were Brady Guertin for the men, with a time of 15:38, and Rachel Victor for the women, with a time of 17:34. There were about 275 adult runners.


Brady Guertin and Rachel Victor were the adult winners.

No less serious, at least judging by the determined little faces, is the run for kids. There's a prize for every runner.

The Fun Run was sponsored by Murieta Health Club and organized by the club and race founder John McNamee.


Red square Gallery: 36 photos from the Kiwanis breakfast

Hat winner

Riley Dubey and her mom, Charlotte Dubey, get ready for the Best Hat contest. There are more photos of Riley and her amazing hat in the gallery. Click photo for larger image.

Pancakes on July 4 must be a Rancho Murieta tradition, at least judging by the response to the Kiwanis annual breakfast.

A newer Kiwanis Club tradition is the Best Hat contest that takes place at the breakfast. This year’s winner, 8-year-old Riley Dubey, created a scene of Laguna Joaquin, complete with houses, tiny people, the North Gate, the Gazebo, and even a miniature of her grandfather’s Hometown Hero banner. Oh, and with fireworks exploding overhead.

Her mother, Charlotte Dubey, said Riley was determined to win the contest after she saw the top award, a tall, shiny trophy at Cosumnes River Elementary School. Riley’s name will be added to the Best of All trophy, which will be displayed at the Local Bean Cafe. Awards were also presented for Best Paper Hat, Best Team of Hats,  Best Hat 10 and Under, Craziest and Most Patriotic.


Red square Gallery: 110 shots of families lining up for the parade and the spectators
Red square Gallery: 172 parade photos -- if you were in it, you're probably here

Parade lineup

The parade lineup is a rush of red, white and blue all the way to the horizon. Click photo for larger image.

The July 4 parade defines Rancho Murieta. It has Boy Scouts, Drippy the blood drive mascot, classic cars, decorated children on decorated bikes, sports teams ... and golf carts. An everyday part of life  takes on a new dimension when wildly imaginative versions of these compact vehicles hit the holiday trail. They’re part of what makes living here unique.

That’s why it’s no longer enough to reserve a spot to view the fireworks. Now you need to scope out a location on the parkway where you can set your chair or park your golf cart and watch the parade go by in all its quirky glory. That's why we need hundreds of photos to capture all the community participation. See the parade galleries.

Here are the various winners, as announced by the Rancho Murieta Association.

Children’s Division – Girls                                               

Brooke Wichard

Honorable Mention:
Rachel Reese
Kinsley Bryla
Chloe Garcia
Julia Garcia
Alina Gutierrez

Children’s Division – Boys

Josh Grimm

Honorable Mention:
Carson Reese

Golf Cart Division

O’Conner Family – Batmobile
Angle Family – Disneyland
Smith Family – RM500
Batchelder – Park Service
Howard Davis – Mermaid
Dubey Family – Amish Buggie
Killian and Madsen Families – BBQ Star Wars
Johnson and Spencer Families – Flamingos
Lindsay Family – Popcorn
Beckstaiger Family – Angry Birds
Matsko and Grimm Families

Honorable Mention:
Spencer Family – Snoopy
McBeath, Lillich, and Adams Families – Hot Pizza
Kennedy Family – Capt. America
Madrigal Family – 4th of July
Smith Family – RM
Rutherford Family
Andrade Family – 4th of July Paradise
Trapasso Family – Mystery Machine
Brandt Family – 4th of July
Scott Davis Family – Flags


Red square Gallery: 34 shots from the carnival

Bounce house

For some little ones, the Fourth is indeed a day to bounce up and down about. Click photo for larger image.

As always, the Optimist Club pulled out all the stops to keep the kids cool and entertained at Lake Clementia Park following the parade. There were bounce houses, slip-and-slide attractions, carnival games, crafts, a watermelon-eating contest, and a free hot dog lunch. The Boy Scouts made snow cones for the crowd and root beer floats were available for an old-time summer treat.

After establishing a beachhead of tents and umbrellas, families worked up an appetite for picnics by swimming or playing beach volleyball. Or just sitting in the shade and relaxing.


Red square Gallery: 39 photos from the dancing and fireworks


The later it got, the fuller the Gazebo dance floor got. Click photo for larger image.

The dance party at the Gazebo stretched almost to 10 p.m. due to a delay in the start of the fireworks show. Little dancers with their parents were the first ones out on the floor. After they were joined by the big kids, a conga line bridged the generations as it circled the Gazebo.

Some tried out new steps, others revisited old favorites (“Chicken Dance,” anyone?), and when the music ended and the lights were turned off, the last of the dancers lined the railing to watch the launching of 400 firework rockets over the lake, filling the night sky with bursts of color.

The evening activities were staged by the RMA.

The grand finale of the show had competition from the flashing red lights and sirens of fire trucks headed past the Gazebo to a home on the corner of Lago and Lindero drives. A trash can fire there had spread to the can enclosure, according to Security. Quick containment of the fire meant the stream of spectators coming from the banks of the lake saw only a post-fireworks traffic jam complicated by the addition of fire trucks.

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Why was fireworks show late?

On Tuesday, the Rancho Murieta Association answered, as best it could, why the fireworks started a half-hour late Monday night.

Danise Hetland, the assistant general manager, said the fire marshal on scene delayed the fireworks from the scheduled 9:30 p.m. start. The RMA had a proper permit, she said. Pyro Spectaculars Inc., the vendor handling the show, has staged prior RMA fireworks with no problems.

Hetland could not say why the fire marshal held up the show. She said RMA will follow up with the parties involved to address any issues and make sure there isn't a repeat.

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Bill Gengler photos from July 4

Blood Source

For his many fans, Bill "Birdman" Gengler offered some very nice July 4 photos that got lost in the shuffle of the day. Here's hoping it's not too late. There's a gallery with 19 shots.

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