Nevada County Fourth of July parade tradition marches on |

Nevada County Fourth of July parade tradition marches on

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

For 17 years, Bill and Sherry Wray have gathered their family to watch the Fourth of July parade, which alternates every year between Grass Valley and Nevada City.

“We go every year,” Sherry Wray said. “It is a hometown good time.”

On Thursday, the Wrays headed to Grass Valley’s Mill Street from their Nevada City home at 6 a.m. to secure a good seat. With triple-digit temperatures, they picked a spot on the southeast side of the parade route, which was nestled comfortably in the shade when the floats and marchers moved past them four hours later.

The Wrays were joined by their children and grandchildren, all of whom had lawn chairs. They even brought a United States flag to patriotically decorate their vantage point.

Around 70 floats rolled passed the Wrays and the other hundreds of spectators lining the entire parade route — coming from East Main Street to Mill Street and then up Neal Street.

There was no shortage of fire trucks, classic cars, motorcycles, singers, marchers and political representatives of both towns’ governments.

Standing in the shade of the historic Del Oro Theatre, Capt. Rex Marks of the Grass Valley Police Department estimated the attendee turnout was on par from past years’ average turnout.

“I think it went very well,” said Keith Davies, executive director of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s theme was “Strike Up the Band,” which Davies noted spurred some creative and patriotic entries.

“I liked how the parade flowed,” Davies said. “I found the parade was as interesting at the beginning and the end as it was in the middle.”

Davies was particularly fond of the 15-vehicle finale from the Sierra Corvette Club, he said.

As of press time, no winner had been announced for best float.

“Mill Street was full and there were people lining the whole parade route, so we were pleased,” Davies said by phone from the Nevada County Fairgrounds, amid the after-parade festivities leading up the fireworks display.

This year’s grand marshal was Lowell Robinson, 84, patriarch of Robinson Enterprises, one of the area’s leading companies.

The Robinson family’s company has long benefitted many Nevada County endeavors and nonprofits, including Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Nevada Union High School, Sierra College, Nevada County Historical Society, Future Farmers of America, Boy Scouts of America, United Way, Junior Achievement, 4-H, local fire departments and the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.

“I’ve known Lowell since I was a kid living in Nevada City,” Davies said previously in a statement. “He has always supported Nevada County.”

Hosting the Independence Day parade on odd-numbered years has been a tradition for Grass Valley since 1903. Prior to 1902, Grass Valley and Nevada City competed for the biggest July Fourth parade, but when the streetcar line opened and the two towns became connected in ways that had not previously been possible, leaders of the both communities came together and agreed to host the annual parade on alternate years.

“The tradition is over a century old and because of cooperation between Grass Valley and Nevada City, we are able to present the best small-town parade in Northern California,” Davies said previously. “And what helps make it especially enjoyable are the imaginative entries that come from nonprofit groups, individuals and local commercial companies.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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