ashland.news
July 24, 2024

Parade celebrated Ashland enterprises and the Fourth of July

Members of OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program, march in the Ashland 4th of July Parade. Bob Palermini photo
July 5, 2023

Large crowds turn out on warm day for parade back to pre-COVID numbers

By Debora Gordon for Ashland.news

Several thousand onlookers cheered participants in the Ashland Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Parade along Siskiyou Boulevard and Main Street on Independence Day, with noticeably larger crowds viewing a longer parade in the second year back after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus.

Many occupied numerous spots staked out with folding chairs, blankets and canopies hours if not days before its start Tuesday morning.

An Ashland City Band member’s trombone gleams as the band marches down Siskiyou Boulevard in the Ashland 4th of July parade. The band began in the late 1880s. They are the oldest performing-arts organization in Southern Oregon, and they have played a big part in Ashland’s parade over the years. Bob Palermini photo

“We are thrilled to have a parade that is really the size of what it was in 2019,” said Katharine Cato, director of travel for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. “We have an incredible grand marshal entry that really honors all Ashland small businesses through the decades. For each decade, there’s a business that started there, showing their resiliency and really, the theme this year is we thrive together, so that’s really showing how their legacies through the decades. We have our dignitaries, but we have wonderful entries. Over 70 entries in the parade … this is really Ashland civic pride coming alive.”

Among the onlookers was a family seated in their lawn chairs along Siskiyou Boulevard. “We’ve been coming for 28 years,” said one, who, like others contacted for comment, declined to give their name. “This is our corner. We arrived at 6 a.m. People set up a lot earlier. They do that, so we had to be here early to set up. We come for our family; it’s a time to be together.”

Ashland Boy Scouts Troop 112 carried the National, Oregon State, and Legion flags to start the annual Fourth of July parade. They were followed by military flags. Bob Palermini photo

Another family came to Ashland for the celebration. “We live in the Applegate. This parade was our first date, in 1974. It’s a tradition, but also patriotic,” said one. Their daughter chimed in, “I like going to the parade because there’s always candy. The people on the floats toss candy.”

Also coming to Ashland for the parade and festivities was another couple. “We came down from Portland, but this parade is better,” said one. “I’ve been coming since I was a baby. We’re waiting for our state representative, Pam Marsh. I used to live up in the Green Springs, and they ran the Green Springs Inn forever. And she always fed the whole neighborhood.”

Ashland General Hardware (Ace Hardware), founded in 1936, was represented in the parade by a truck full of flag wavers. Bob Palermini photo

One woman was happy to see the parade continue for a second year after the COVID hiatus. “It is just good to be able to come out,” she said, “to be part of the community again, and have that community spirit.”

The 2023 Ashland Fourth of July celebration parade route was full, with many spectators wearing the colors of the flag. Bob Palermini photo

This year’s parade theme was “We Thrive Together,” honoring Ashland businesses through the years. Representatives of various enterprises marched with signs bearing their founding year, beginning with the Ashland Chamber itself, which has been around since the1880s-1890s. Several entries traced their roots to the early 1900s, including Oak Street Tank & Steel from 1912, Ashland Springs Hotel from 1925, Ashland General Hardware from 1936, Omar’s restaurant from 1946, Hassell Fabrication from 1954, Rare Earth from 1969, Paddington Station from 1973, Treehouse Books and Gnomes of Ashland from 1978, the Winchester Inn from 1983, the Black Sheep from 1992, El Tapatio from 1997, Louie’s from 2002, and B’Inspired Studio from 2011, to list just some of the many businesses featured in the sucession of decades.

A building on the parade route provided a elevated view of the Paddington Station parade entry. Bob Palermini photo

Others making their way down the parade route included the Ashland City Band, an older model car with a sign that read, “Honoring Active Military and Veterans,” Rep. Pam Marsh in a Statue of Liberty costume, state Sen. Jeff Golden, and several other local elected officials, including Parks & Recreation Commissioners Leslie Eldridge and Justin Adams and city Councilors Bob Kaplan and Jeff Dahle, and Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College presidents Rick Bailey and Andy Weber.

Two F15 jets from the 173rd Fighter Wing out of Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls flew over Ashland as well as eight other parades in Oregon on Tuesday. Bob Palermini photo

Next came a procession representing a broad array of aspects of Ashland life, from businesses to groups of five to 10 marchers with signs proclaiming “We Believe in the Power of Community,” “We Have a Heart for Service,” “We Care for Everyone,” “Community Lives Here,” “Racial Justice,” “We All Thrive With More Equality,” and “18th Century Laws Cannot Regulate 21st Century Weapons,” among other political statements.

Then followed a contingent bearing banners and signs reading “150 Years of Southern Oregon University,” several contingents of dancers, stilt-walkers from Ashland Aerial Arts and the Jackson County Democrats with a banner reading “We’re On Your Side.”

Oregon State Representative Pam Marsh walked the parade in a Statue of Liberty costume, with state Sen. Jeff Golden not far behind (carrying sign saying “Jeff Golden”). Bob Palermini photo

Many more caravans, exhibits and dancers followed, with the parade ending with several horses from Horse Haven Trails and, finally, a new Ashland Fire & Rescue fire engine.

All the parade participants were met with applause and cheers and, as the fire engine brought the end of the parade, it was evident that Ashland celebrates its broad array of talent, businesses, and civic pride, of its city, state and country with love, respect, and profound esteem for the many facets of life that have a home here.

Debora Gordon is a writer, artist, educator and non-violence activist who recently moved to Ashland from Oakland, California. Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham (left, front) along with city councilors and other leaders pedaled down Siskiyou Blvd in the Pint Rider, driven by owner Nate Olsen. Bob Palermini photo
Sage TeBeest, president of SEIU and classified employees at SOU (in wheelchair) was part of the SOU entry in the Fourth of July parade. Bob Palermini photo
A spectator watches the parade go by in downtown Ashland. Bob Palermini photo
Stilt walkers from Ashland Aerial Arts walked the mile parade route about 3 feet above the street. Bob Palermini photo
The Southern Oregon Climate Action Now parade entry suggests riding the bus to reduce your carbon footprint. Bob Palermini photo
The American Band College contingent rode on a flatbed trailer and other vehicles. It is the largest Master’s Degree program for band directors. Bob Palermini photo
Ashland Fire and Rescue showed off the newest addition to the fleet, a 2023 Pierce Saber Fire Engine which was delivered on June 30 and will go into service at Fire Station No. 1 in August. Bob Palermini photo
After the parade many spectators went to Lithia Park were there were many booth offering everything from food to information offered by local agencies. Bob Palermini photo
The Ashland City Band performed a concert of patriotic music at Butler Bandshell in Lithia Park after the parade. Bob Palermini photo
Bob Jackson Miner, who portrays Abraham Lincoln, waits to deliver the Gettysburg Address to the crowd gathered at Butler Bandshell. Bob Palermini photo
Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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