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Napa holds an old-school Fourth of July | Local News

Napa celebrated an old-fashioned Fourth of July — old as in before the pandemic. For...

Napa celebrated an old-fashioned Fourth of July — old as in before the pandemic.

For the first time since 2019, a full slate of festivities were back in the city’s downtown. The traditional parade, concerts and fireworks were all on tap.

This Independence Day wasn’t freedom from COVID-19, given new variants and sub-variants seem to be constantly popping up. But it almost seemed that way as floats and marchers streamed down streets lined with cheering crowds.

Happy 246th birthday, America. And happy 175th birthday, city of Napa.

Of course, Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are out there, threatening to rain on everybody’s parade. But they didn’t dampen things Monday in downtown Napa.

Desiree Kuhn and Napa Valley Horsemen’s Association members prepared around 8:15 a.m. to ride in the 10 a.m. parade. Her daughter, 12-year-old Devin, would ride a mule.

“I’m excited,” Kuhn said. “This is like one of our favorite things to do, so we’re really happy to be back.”

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She considered whether a normal-looking Fourth of July meant things really are normal again.

“I think they’re getting back to normal,” she said. “But I still think we’re not out of the woods. Anything normal we can bring back is good.”

Fawn Lustig helped prepare the Sheriff Activities League to march. The group offers sports ranging from soccer to judo to wrestling to boxing.

She’s excited to have the parade back, she said. But that doesn’t mean everything is back to pre-pandemic normal.

“It’s the new normal. It’s going to be a more considerate, kind, careful society — hopefully,” she said with a smile.

Suzy Jordan and Daniel Alderson prepared the county’s Special Olympics group to march.

“We don’t have a float this year,” Jordan said. “Because we’re athletes, we’ll be marching.”

Things aren’t quite back to normal yet, in their opinions.

“Not with the COVID lingering,” Alderson said.

But they would soon be marching down a street lined with cheering crowds. They would soon be experiencing the most normal Fourth of July in the city of Napa since the pandemic began.

“I think Napa really needs this,” Jordan said. “And so do we.”

People found their parade-watching spots on the sidewalks and curbs of Second and Third streets. Some people wore red-white-and-blue. A child waved a small flag with gusto. An ice cream vendor walked along the street honking a horn.

Shane Morgan recently moved to Napa from Tennessee with his wife Christi and 9-year-old daughter Lexi. Things didn’t shut down much during the pandemic there, he said, so they never missed out on Fourth of July parades and fireworks.

Morgan was hesitant to say pre-pandemic normalcy has returned to his new home of Napa.

“I’m worried it’s going to come back again this fall,” he said. “I work in the medical field, so we’ll see. Hopefully not.”

Elizabeth Smith sat on the sidewalk with her children, 9-year-old Griffin, 7-year-old Charley and 2-year-old Turner.

The last Napa Fourth of July parade was a good part of a lifetime ago for Griffin and Charley. Still, Griffin remembers the “cool cars” and Charley remembers the floats.

“I think things are starting to feel normal again,” Smith said. “I hope it will stay like this…I feel it’s going to be OK. That people for the most part are going to stay out-and-about and not hunker down again.”

Soon, the parade sponsored by Sunrise Rotary began with about 45 entries. The fire trucks and old police car sounded their sirens, kids marched twirling batons, Volkswagens and classic cars drove by and people in colorful costumes danced to music. The crowd cheered.

Just like pre-pandemic times, even if thoughts of the pandemic lingered.

You can reach Barry Eberling at 707-256-2253 or [email protected]