Concerts, parade, festival and fireworks provide entertainment from morning to night

By Raiza Giorgi

A huge crowd of enthusiastic spectators enjoyed Solvang’s Fourth of July parade, with several saying the spectacle left them exhilarated.

“It was a great parade and really showed off our small-town and American pride,” said Frank Kelsey, executive director of Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation.

Valley resident Melissa Friend said the weather was great, and her children really loved watching all the different entries.

The festivities started with a concert by the Santa Ynez Valley Wind Ensemble at Solvang Park.

Singing the National Anthem was Solvang Elementary School student Libby Padfield, who was a finalist for the Teen Star Santa Barbara competition last winter.

The annual parade included 77 entries, according to members of the Solvang Rotary Club, which sponsors the event each Independence Day.

Thousands of people wearing red, white and blue lined the streets of Solvang to watch the parade. Kids eagerly waited for people on floats to toss out candy and hand out flags. Several kids shared their treats with other kids who weren’t fast enough to get their own.

The crowd applauded and cheered as Grand Marshal Jim Kunkle Sr. and his wife Ruth were driven along the parade route.

A highly decorated fighter pilot in World War II, Kunkle broke formation while flying over enemy lines to save his fellow pilots from enemy fire. He took out two planes before being shot down, bailing out, and being rescued by Allied ground troops.

“The weather was near perfect,” said Rotary member Allan Jones, who was the parade announcer along with Jason Stiff of KCOY television.

The entry that took the Sweepstakes Award was the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Model A Clubs for their very patriotic decorations.

The prize for the most amusing entry went to the “Friars on Tires” by the San Lorenzo Seminary, as their friars rode in the parade on bicycles.

The Santa Ynez Elks took home the award for best tractor. The Charros of Santa Ynez were named the best riding group, among groups of cowboys and dancing Andalusian horses with their flowing manes and tails.

The festivities kept going into the afternoon with a barbecue by the Solvang Rotary and free concerts — by the T-Bone Ramblers in the park and by the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, which presented a free concert of Americana, traditional and patriotic music in the sanctuary at Mission Santa Inés.

The Rotary Club of the Santa Ynez Valley sponsored the afternoon festival at Mission Santa Inés featuring food booths, s wine and beer garden, kids’ activities that included a bounce castle and face-painting, and time to kick back and socialize before their fireworks show at 9 p.m. All proceeds from the festival benefit local charities.

July 4 parade winners

Sweepstakes  –  Santa Ynez Valley & Santa Maria Model A Clubs

Best Use of Parade Theme  – Rotary Club of Solvang

Most Patriotic – Daughters of the American Revolution

Most Amusing – San Lorenzo Seminary “Friars on Tires”

Most Unique –  Capuchin Franciscans – Old Mission Santa Ines

Most Creative – Friends of the Library

Best Band –  Santa Ynez Valley Jazz Band

Best Singing Group – Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Best Singing, Single – Libby Padfield – National Anthem

Best Family Group – Sherieff Family – Herbie the Love Bug

Best Church Group – SYV Presbyterian Church

Best Senior Group – Atterdag Village

Best Animal Group – Willow Creek Ranch Family and Friends

Best Wagon, Single – Santa Maria Elks Lodge No. 1538

Best Automobile Group – Vapor Trail Vettes

Best Automobile, Single – Jim and Lynn Axtell’s ’56 T-Bird

Best Automobile, Restored – SB County Sheriff’s Paddy Wagon

Best Automobile, Antique  –  Vincent Vineyards and Winery, 1950 Packard Woody Station Wagon

Best Fire Engine –  Engine 30, Solvang Fire Department.

Best Tractor –  Santa Ynez Valley Elks

Best Equestrian Group – Eagle Flight Farms

Best Riding Group – Charros of Santa Ynez

Best Viking Ship – Vikings of Solvang

Best Color Guard – American Legion Post No. 160

Road Apple Crew – Lucky Clover 4-H

Best Clown – PCPA Theaterfest, Erik Stein

Best Sport Group –  SYVUHS Boys Water Polo Team

Best Military Group –  Flat Fender Friends

Best Walking Group –  SYV Community Action Alliance

Best Dancing Group –  Garcia Dance Studio

Most Energetic – Gymnastics North and Parks & Rec Department

Best Group for a Cause – Lompoc Shriners

Best School Group –  SYVUHS Robotics Club

Best Youth Group –  AYSO Soccer

Best Audience Participation – Veggie Rescue

Best Dog – “Sunny” Jim Summerlin