Staff Report

Equestrian groups are a huge hit during the annual Fourth of July Parade in Solvang.

Solvang, recently named again by USA Today as one of the 10 best historic small towns in America, is ready to celebrate Independence Day with special events and family activities.

Here is the schedule of public events:

Wednesday, July 4

10 a.m. — Free concert by Santa Ynez Valley Wind Ensemble at Solvang Park.

11 a.m. – Independence Day Parade presented by Solvang Breakfast Rotary Club rolls, canters, steps and strolls from Mission Santa Ines and heads west along Mission Drive, turns south on Fourth Place, then east along Copenhagen Drive and back to the mission.

This year’s parade theme is “Our Exceptional Country.” The grand marshals are Jim and Phyllis Axtell of Solvang, who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in May.

They are longtime Santa Ynez Valley residents, having moved here after Jim served in the Air Force and worked at Lockheed Martin, helping to develop jets such as the XP-80. Phyllis also worked at Lockheed and eventually became the principal at Ballard Elementary.

“Seeing our family and beautiful grandchildren is always a delight. We know we have led a great life together. It’s not perfect, but I think as close as you can get,” Jim said in a previous interview with the Star.

Noon – 2 p.m. – Barbecue featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, linguiça and all the fixings for $5 to $7, and a free concert at Solvang Park.

2 p.m. – The Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale will present a free concert of Americana, traditional and patriotic music in the sanctuary at Mission Santa Ines.

2 – 9 p.m. – 23rd annual Solvang Independence Day Festival throughout the afternoon and evening, sponsored by Rotary Club of the Santa Ynez Valley. Gates open at Mission Santa Inés at 2 p.m. The festival will feature food booths; wine and beer garden; kids’ activities including bounce castle and face painting; and plenty of time to kick back and relax.

Live entertainment will begin at 5 p.m. with local performers. Admission is $10 per adult, free for children ages 7 and under, and free for active-duty military and their dependents. All proceeds benefit local charities.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at Solvang Friendship House (880 Friendship Lane) or Hometown Insurance (186 W. Highway 246, Buellton), as well as at the gate.

9 – 9:30 p.m. – Solvang Independence Day Fireworks Show sponsored by Rotary Club of the Santa Ynez Valley at Mission Santa Inés.

Parking is free in public lots and at businesses throughout Solvang. The Solvang Visitors Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1630 Copenhagen Drive, offering free maps, visitor guides, savings coupons and information.