SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — The Fourth of July will be a busy day in Santa Cruz County, with parades, parties, fundraisers and more scheduled, capped off by a new fireworks show in Watsonville.
Kicking things off on Tuesday is the World’s Shortest Parade in Aptos, a Fourth of July tradition that brings community members together, young and old, to celebrate the many people who make the small town tick.
Now in its 56th year, the theme for this year’s event is “America: Your Land, My Land, Our Land.”
The parade, which typically boasts nearly 200 entries every year, will feature floats, dance groups, dogs, children, civic groups, antique cars, the Watsonville Community Band and more. It travels from the corner of Soquel and State Park drives to the Bay View Hotel.
This year’s Grand Marshals are the Santana Family, who own Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant.
Karen Hibble, co-executive director of the Aptos Chamber of Commerce, said the family has “supported so many nonprofits and so many events” throughout their more than five decades in business.
“They have been a fabulous family for our community,” she said.
Before the parade starts, attendees are invited to a pancake breakfast at Burger, 7941 Soquel Drive, from 7-10 a.m. The breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice and coffee. Partial proceeds will be donated to Santa Cruz Search and Rescue Team. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.
The parade then runs from 10 a.m. to noon, after which is Party in the Park at Aptos Village Park, featuring live music by Extra Large. Party in the Park runs to 4 p.m., and a $5 donation is suggested.
Hibble said the World’s Shortest Parade is a yearly tradition for many in the area, some of which set up their chairs along Soquel Drive the day before to secure a good viewing spot.
“It’s such a tradition that people seem to find a way to make sure they get to see the parade,” she said.
In 1961, Aptos residents Lucile Aldrich, Anne and Albert Isaacs and others were successful in their fight to prevent a zoning law that would have paved the way for a cement plant in Aptos Village. A celebration was held on Memorial Day, and was the inspiration behind a Fourth of July parade two months later.
But to keep it running another 56 years, Hibble urged attendees to help out by following parade rules and picking up their own trash. She also reminded parade entrants to steer away from “offensive acts” during the parade, as it is viewed by thousands of people and children of all ages.
“We need everybody’s help in keeping our community a safe and sane place to have this fabulous parade,” she said.
The Aptos Grange, 2555 Mar Vista Drive in Aptos, will hold an arts and crafts sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Local makers and artists will showcase their wares for sale.
Admission and parking is free.
Starting an hour earlier this year, the Spirit of Watsonville Fourth of July Parade will take over downtown Watsonville at 1 p.m.
The parade, which lasts about two and a half hours, draws thousands of people who come to see hundreds of floats by community organizations and businesses, as well as entries of hot rods, horses and more.
This year’s Grand Marshal is Paz Padilla, who has worked with immigrants for a number of years through her position as associate director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration & Citizenship Program. She also chairs Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, serves as youth coordinator for Holy Eucharist Parish in Corralitos and sits on the board of Moreland Notre Dame Academy.
After the parade, Elkhorn Slough Brewing Company, 65 Hangar Way in Watsonville, will hold a fundraiser for Pajaro Valley Shelter Services.
The event, taking place from 3-10 p.m., will feature craft beer from Elkhorn Slough Brewing Company, coffee, tea, lemonade and cookies from Hidden Fortress Coffee, pizza from Fired Up Fresh and plates from My Mom’s Mole.
All beer profits will go to PV Shelter.
Live music performances include The Lab Rats at 5:30 p.m. and Metra-Gnomes at 7:30 p.m.
Ending the Fourth of July festivities with a bang is “Fire in the Sky,” Watsonville’s first fireworks show in many years. It will be held during an open house at the Watsonville Municipal Airport, 100 Aviation Way, from 5-9:30 p.m.
During the event, California Highway Patrol and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office will display their aircraft. Air ambulance Calstar and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will also bring aircraft to the field.
Airport tenants have also been invited to display personal, flying club, trainers and corporate aircraft.
Fire in the Sky will also include formation flyovers, food trucks, introductory flights and a screening of the film “Angry Birds.” The event will conclude with a nearly 20-minute firework show.
“We expect the Fire in the Sky Airport Open House to be one of the biggest community events in Watsonville, offering an opportunity to see what’s special about the airport, with over 10 food trucks, family movie, and fireworks show, you won’t want to miss it,” said Assistant City Manager Matt Huffaker.
Admission is free to Fire in the Sky, with vehicle parking on the runway costing $10.