John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and second president of the United States wrote that the Fourth of July “. . . ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”
Solano County residents have done their best over the years to do him proud.
Here is a rewind of local Independence Day celebrations past:
100 years ago: The 1914 dedication of the new Solano County courthouse featured among other festivities a parade, fireworks and a “Horribles” contest, where residents wore their most horrible costumes.
60 years ago: In 1954 in Suisun City, free stuff reigned. Free United States flags were distributed, children got a free lunch and from 1 to 2 p.m they could enjoy free cartoons at the Suisun Theatre. The only thing that had a price tag on it was a dance at the M & M Skateway (where Bab’s Delta Diner now stands), featuring the Phil King orchestra.
50 years ago: To help ensure that local residents would be able to attend their child-friendly Independence Day events, the City Council of Suisun City passed a formal resolution in 1964 that read in part: “IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED . . . that you, the people of our community, are most earnestly requested to stay off the state highways during the coming weekend and celebrate our chief national noliday at home.”
They literally had events for all ages:
King and queen of freckles for all ages.
Sack races for those 6 to 12.
Spoon and egg races for those 8 to 30.
Pie-eating tournament for those 4 to 13.
Milk-drinking contest for those 9 to 13.
Slow bicycle race for children up to 12 years old.
Twist contest for all ages.
40 years ago: More than 2,000 people attended the Independence Day celebration held at Allan Witt Park in 1974. It featured the Fireman’s Olympics, with a bucket brigade, water polo and a tug of war. Residents beat the heat for free at the Fairfield Plunge swimming pool.
30 years ago: The 1984 Suisun City Fourth of July celebration featured a recreation of a Revolutionary War naval battle. The theme of the Fairfield parade was “American sports in motion” and the fitting grand marshal was ex-Armijo football coach and local sports legend Ed Hopkins. A cultural touchstone of the times – break dancers – were featured in the parade. Fireworks were at Travis Air Force Base for the fifth year in a row.
Other local residents shared Fourth of July memories:
Judy Leetham: Back in the 1940s and ’50s, the Suisun City plaza was the grand destination for us kids! They had sack races, firecrackers, music and all kinds of events. My best memory: It was a really hot July 4 and I saw the watermelon-eating contest. Ohhh, that cold watermelon looked so good! So I sat down, got a big piece, and slowly savored every bite . . . as all the other kids were cramming it down to win the race. People saw what I was doing and had some good laughs. It was a great time to be growing up in the small communities of Fairfield/Suisun.
Monica Lunceford Romero Sepulveda: The best time was when the celebration was held over at Allan Witt Park, which used to be West Texas Street Park. There were baseball games and everyone brought picnics. I was sad when they moved them.
Steve Murray: One year, we painted red and white stars and stripes on my blue VW and snuck into the parade.
Julie Huffenberger: The Fourth of July as a kid growing up in Fairfield is some of the best memories I have of my childhood. It always included backyard barbecues, fun in the sun and watching the downtown parade from my Uncle Lloyd’s and my mom’s tax business. Then at night getting on the roof of my house to watch the fireworks set off at J C. Penney’s parking lot before there was a mall.
Mark Smith: I recall they moved the fireworks from where the mall is now over to Dickson Hill, where the water storage reservoir is. This was before there were houses all around. There was a lot of dry grass on the hill and the finale lit most of the hill on fire. So after the fireworks were over, we got to watch the hill burn.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].