Idyllwild’s Fourth of July: Wholesome, small-town Americana

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The University of California, Riverside Pipe Band returns after a one-year hiatus to highlight the Idyllwild Independence Day Parade — for what is a parade without a band? And now, the always thrilling sound of bagpipes and drums will echo throughout the downtown village core as the parade makes its way down North Circle.
Photo by Cheryl Bayse

It’s not big, it’s not boisterous, it’s not ostentatious. It’s small-town America at its most wholesome and charming. That is Idyllwild’s iconic Independence Day Parade, now in its 52nd year and 15th year of Idyllwild Rotary sponsorship.

New Hill residents, unless irredeemably sophisticated, will thrill to a taste of what celebrating American Independence Day was like for years in small towns all over the country. In Idyllwild, the Fourth of July is a Norman Rockwell painting of small-town friendliness and openness that is fading in urban America but is very much alive here.

You know the members of the Honor Guard, your neighbors on home-designed floats and Dr. Chip Schelly on stilts as Uncle Sam. You even recognize your neighbors’ dogs dressed in red, white and blue. And, of course, there’s Idyllwild’s mayor, smiling from the back of his truck. And for those who may not be aware, the mayor has four legs, and he does, in fact, smile.

This year, Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff is the grand marshal, sharing the honors with Capt. Leonard Purvis, commander of the Hemet Valley Sheriff’s station that serves the Hill. That is an important nod by Sniff and Purvis to the importance of Idyllwild to the county as its only alpine community and its only historic district in the unincorporated areas.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 4, from Fern Valley Corners and proceeds in leisurely fashion down North Circle Drive to the town square. It’s led by the American Legion Post 800 Honor Guard. Along the way, at three different locations along the parade route, Navy Vet Cid Castillo will play the National Anthem on his trumpet. Rotary Parade Chair Chuck Weisbart said this year’s parade will have a band — with the return of the much admired U.C. Riverside Pipe Band. On display as they are each year are a number of off-Hill car clubs: the Valley Cruisers, the Hemet Jeep Club and the Palm Springs Corvette Club.

Weisbart cautioned that there will be barricades in place before the parade to keep the formation streets, as well as North Circle, clear of traffic. Weisbart said traffic would be clearly rerouted for those intending to get to Humber Park.

Road closures will go into effect at 9 a.m. All road closures are for traffic headed up toward Fern Valley Corners from Highway 243 via:

  • North Circle Drive at Highway 243 all the way up to South Circle Drive (Fern Valley Corners)
  • Lower Tahquitz at lower South Circle drives
  • Upper South Circle at upper Tahquitz drives
  • Pine Crest (middle) Avenue from Alderwood Street up to North Circle Drive
  • Jameson Drive from Fir Street up to Pine Crest Avenue
  • South Circle from upper Tahquitz to North Circle drives

Weisbart recommends that in the closure area, spectators get there early so they can both park and secure great seating.   

As to parade entrants, “If there are any late entries, they could call me at 760-578-3592 or email at nthebag@earthlink.net,” said Weisbart.

Starting off the Fourth of July celebrations, on Saturday, July 1, the American Legion Post 800 will host a deep-pit barbecue from 3 to 7 p.m. Post Commander Danny Richardson said beef and pork roasts will be barbecued, with corn on the cob, cole slaw and homemade barbecued beans. Tickets are $14 for adults on presale and $16 at the door. Kids ages 10 and under are $10.

At night, beginning at 9 p.m,. there will be an inaugural 30-minute laser show on the face of Lily Rock. There are no designated places for watching the display.

The Fourth of July week continues on Thursday, July 6, with Lisa Haley and her Zydekats kicking off the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series. And because it is still at the Idyllwild Community Center site, there will be a dance floor.

If you want fireworks, you’ll have to go off the Hill since fireworks are prohibited on the mountain. But if you stay in Idyllwild, you will be charmingly entertained.

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