Happy Independence Day! | News | Palo Alto Online |


Happy Independence Day!

Here's where to find July 4 parades, festivals, food and fireworks along the Midpeninsula

The community can celebrate America's 242nd birthday at festivals and firework displays planned along the Midpeninsula for Wednesday, July 4. Festivities include the annual chili cook-off in Palo Alto, parades in Redwood City, Menlo Park and Los Altos Hills, and a fireworks spectacular in Mountain View. Check out these local opportunities to celebrate the red, white and blue.

Palo Alto

Chili Cook-off and Summer Festival

Noon to 5 p.m. at Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive; cityofpaloalto.org Chili Cook-off

Approximately 10,000 people are expected to turn out for the 37th annual Chili Cook-off and Summer Festival. Judges will award more than $2,000 in cash and prizes to winners of the cook-off. The 11 participating chili crews also will compete for Best Booth, Best Spirit Award and People's Choice Award.

Sandra Klemens, a substitute teacher and Mountain View resident, first participated in the Chili Cook-off in 2015 as a way to see how her and her husband's personal recipe compared to other competitors'. Her two young sons had so much fun that they decided to make it an annual family tradition.

"We thought, 'My gosh, we make chili, our kids love chili, we can do this,'" Klemens said. "They are almost 16 and 13 now and we've still been doing this every year."

Klemens won the People's Choice Award two years ago, and hopes to take the win this year as the Palo Alto Fire Department (a frequent winner) will not be participating.

Not so interested in cooking? Tasting begins at 1:30 p.m. for $5.

If chili isn't your thing, a variety of food trucks and booths with appetizing choices like cheesesteaks, gourmet popcorn and spicy Korean chicken wings will camp out nearby. The Radio City All-Stars Band also will return with current and classic pop and rock hits, and for kids, lawn games, bounce houses and arts and crafts will be available. Admission is free.

"Being a taster, it's a big party with food trucks, beer and margaritas. Just enjoying fun in the sun," Klemens said. "But for the chili makers, it's nonstop from 8 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon, just chopping up meat and serving samples."

Mountain View

Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular

5 p.m. at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway; City of Mountain View

"Ooh" and "ahh" at this year's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre. Starting at 9:50 p.m., the San Francisco Symphony will accompany the pyrotechnics with a performance featuring music from "The Incredibles," "Toy Story 2" and "Finding Nemo." Doors open at 5 p.m. with family-friendly games and activities. Discounted tickets start at $13.50.

On-the-water viewing of fireworks

9 p.m. at Shoreline Lake Boathouse, 3160 N. Shoreline Blvd.; Shoreline Lake

For those who want a unique view of the fireworks, Shoreline Lake Boathouse will provide patrons with pedal boats, row boats, canoes ($85) and kayaks ($40 for single; $60 for double) to watch the evening's display from the water. Customers may also choose to add a wine and cheese platter for $40, a "Snack Pack" deal for $10 a person or a variety of pre-prepared picnic baskets offered by American Bistro for $30 for two people. Day rentals must be returned by 8:30 p.m. and vessels start boarding at 9 p.m.

The Boathouse also will be hosting a barbecue picnic and will offer one, two or three types of main dishes (burgers, chicken, hot dogs, sausages and veggie burgers) and a choice of two sides (green salad, potato salad, coleslaw or baked beans) for $13, $15 or $17. The barbecue is available from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Menlo Park

Fourth of July parade and celebration

11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Burgess Park, 701 Laurel St.; City of Menlo Park

Menlo Park kicks off its annual Fourth of July parade and celebration at 11:45 a.m. Community members will parade through downtown Menlo Park and stop at Burgess Park, where soft-rock band Mustache Harbor will take the stage. The event will also feature a variety of food and family-friendly activities such as crafts, face painting, rock walls, giant slides, bounce houses and carnival games. A putt-putt golf course, "Disco Dome" and "Tot Lot" also will be included in this year's festivities. Admission is free; an $8 wristband is required for some activities. Wristbands can be purchased in advance at the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium at 600 Alma St. from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


Woodside Junior Rodeo and Parade

Noon, Mounted Patrol Grounds, 521 Kings Mountain Road

The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County will hold its annual Woodside Junior Rodeo

and Parade at the Mounted Patrol Grounds. Gates open at 7:30 a.m., but the rodeo starts at noon with a special Color Guard presentation. The event will include pony rides, a petting zoo, a mechanical bull, a pig scramble and other activities. Admission to the rodeo is $18 for adults 18 and over, $15 for children ages 6 through 17 and free for kids, ages 5 and under. The night before the rodeo, the Mounted Patrol will host a pre-rodeo dinner and dance, also on the Mounted Patrol Grounds. The dinner starts at 6 p.m.

Los Altos

Glorious Fourth festival

10:20 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shoup Park, 400 University Ave.

Los Altos will host a patriotic "Glorious Fourth" festival at Shoup Park. Independence Day festivities will include performances from Ye Olde Town Band and rock band The Unicorns, a patriotic song singalong, a salute-to-veterans ceremony and games for the family. The festival also will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Cradle of Liberty, a statue in Shoup Park donated by the Veterans' Memorial Association of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills in 1998. Hot dogs, shaved ice and beverages will be sold. Admission is free.

Los Altos Hills

Fourth of July Parade

9:30-11 a.m. at 26379 Fremont Road; Los Altos Hills

The 10th annual Los Altos Hills Fourth of July Parade will start with a gathering at Town Hall at 9:30 a.m. prior to the parade's official kick off down Fremont Road at 10 a.m.. Approximately 600 marchers are expected to participate in the quarter- mile trek that ends at Gardner Bullis School, where drinks and watermelon will be provided. The city is adding a band and horns for the parade's 10th anniversary, and there will be special giveaways for participants.

Redwood City

Fourth of July Parade and Festival

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Redwood City; RWC Parade.

Organized by the Peninsula Celebration Association, the 79th Fourth of July parade and festival is likely to attract thousands of spectators to downtown Redwood City. The largest Independence Day parade in Northern California, the march will commence with a booming canon at 10 a.m. Participants will wind their way along a 1.3 mile route through downtown to Arguello Street.

The city's annual festival also will take place in downtown Redwood City from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival will hold a flurry of kid-friendly activities, from a magic show at Broadway Street to a performance from a clown at Jefferson Avenue to a face painter at Middlefield Road. The festival also will serve the local community with proceeds from food stands (which will offer street tacos, shaved ice and more) going to local nonprofit organizations. Arts and crafts booths will sell local artists' handcrafted jewelry and pottery as well. A tradition since 2000, the Stanford Marching Band also will face off against the Cal Aggie Band-uh (from UC Davis) for a battle of the bands. Admission is free.

'An Old-Fashioned Fourth of July'

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Courthouse Square, Redwood City; SMCHM

The San Mateo County History Museum will hold its annual Old-Fashioned Fourth of July, at which children can try hand-cranking vanilla ice cream and make traditional Independence Day crafts to take home. Museum admission will be half-price: $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students and free for kids 5 and under.

Pancake Breakfast

7:30-10:30 a.m. at Redwood City Fire Department Station 9, 755 Marshall St.

The Redwood City Fire Department is home to the annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast. Breakfast sales benefit the Redwood City Firefighters Association.

Parade Run 5K

8 a.m. at Warren Street, Redwood City; Parade Run

Looking to burn a few calories before the pancake breakfast? The Redwood City Education Foundation's 5K Parade Run kicks off at 8 a.m. Runners, walkers and strollers are welcome to follow the parade route three times for the full 5K. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Redwood City Education Foundation, which raises funds for students in the Redwood City School District. Dogs are not allowed and kids under the age of 10 must run with a registered adult.

Chalk Full of Fun on the Square

July 3, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., July 4, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Courthouse Square and Chalk Alley; RWCPAF

Interact with artists of all ages at the fourth annual chalk art festival at the Courthouse Square and "Chalk Alley" (Hamilton and Broadway streets) in Redwood City. Participants from five different categories (professional artists, amateur artists, high school students, third-to-eighth grade students and teams) will sketch, draw and color downtown's pavement. Admission is free.


7-9:30 p.m. at Port of Redwood City; RWC Port

Redwood City's Fourth of July finishes with a fireworks display over the port. There will be live music by the Fog City Swampers and food trucks from 7 p.m. onwards and the pyrotechnics will start at 9:30 p.m. Pets and alcohol are not permitted.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Portland's Thai food darling Pok Pok will be popping up on the Peninsula this spring
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 3,573 views

Flying: How to lower your impact
By Sherry Listgarten | 18 comments | 2,931 views

Premarital and Couples: Here Be Dragons!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,367 views

Overachieving in High School: Is It Worth It?
By Jessica Zang | 11 comments | 1,692 views

Pseudo-Primary for CA Senate District 13: some thoughts
By Douglas Moran | 3 comments | 1,472 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details