Claremont festivities bring crowds with traditional favorites

An unexpected glitch may have set back the Fireworks Spectacular, but the delay was not enough to slow the momentum of Claremont’s 65th annual Fourth of July Celebration last week. The Ravelers kept the crowds dancing until the boom of the fireworks and explosion of color took over.

Claremont residents are serious about celebrating the red, white and blue, and hardly anything seems to get in the way. One day is not enough; planning for the yearly celebration spreads out throughout the entire year. No doubt plans are already underway for the 66th Independence Day extravaganza.  

The lineup may be the same every year—pancake breakfast, race, parade and fireworks—but the crowds come back with renewed enthusiasm year after year. Those who have celebrating their Day of Independence in the City of Trees know there is a little extra spark about the Claremont Fourth of July. Here are some of the reasons the Fourth is Claremont’s favorite.

1. The blankets lining Indian Hill Boulevard days before the actual Fourth of July celebration even arrives. The preemptive preparations somehow make the drive down the street to work a little more exciting, maybe if only for the promise of the short work week and fun to come.  

2. The Kiwanis Pancakes. This year they served hot cakes to 889 breakfast-goers. It’s a tough job, serving a horde of hungry people. With cleanup, it hasn’t been uncommon for work from the Fourth of July breakfast to last until 2 a.m. on the Fifth of July, notes Kiwanis president Jim Convoy. Their cause, to help the less fortunate, helps keep them focused.

3. Watching the youngest generation of Claremonters kicking off the celebration with an all-out sprint at the Freedom 5000’s kid fun run. The enthusiasm is palpable.

4. The runners willing to brave the typical July heat wave give us reason to cheer in the early hours of Fourth of July morning. John Guzman, 22, Aric Crowell, 18, and Colin Mcgarth, 26, finished at the top of the pack this year in the men’s division while Nicki Maslan, 19,  Rae Brookshire, 19, and Samantha Cabrera, 15, took home the medals for women.

5. The anticipated outlandish decorations decking out homes across town, always a sight to see with flags and Uncle Sams galore.

6. The Pledge of Allegiance, always recited by a Claremont elementary school student, as the festivities are kicked off at the Flag Raising Ceremony.

7. The legendary Speakers’ Corner, one of the first in the United States, brought to Claremont by the late T. Willard Hunter and maintained today by Karen Rosenthal. Mr. Hunter was arguably the most notable speaker over the years—reciting poetry, stories or the Declaration of Independence in top hat and frock coat—but Claremont has a few other notable regulars, like Butch Henderson (on justice and truth), Michael Fay (on societal values), Chuck Doskow (on the Supreme Court), David Nemer (on education), Michael Keenan (on public policy failures) and Peter Weinberger (news reporting), who is the 2nd generation speaking following his father Martin, just to name a few.

8. It doesn’t matter the age, everyone has face paint!

9. Barbecue. There’s always a generous heaping of pulled pork, hotdogs and hamburgers for those who seek them at Memorial Park. They say the way to someone’s heart is through the stomach. In Claremont, it’s no different.  

10. The regular, unquestioned, appearance of Uncle Sam on stilts.

11. The buzz of activity as kids gather along Tenth Street to deck out their bikes, skates and wagons with streamers and balloons before the parade commences.

12. The colorful characters that make up the annual Fourth of July parade. Here’s a few: the now-defunct Claremont Bicentennial Power Lawn Mower Drill Team, The Claremont Irregulars and the Kazoo band.

13. Playing a friendly game of Frisbee or football at the Claremont Colleges before the start of the sold out fireworks show. Blankets and lawn chairs devour every square inch of grass as friends and family gather together for the culmination of the day’s celebrating.  

14. A little bit of rock ‘n roll, courtesy of The Ravelers, to kick off the fireworks.

15. The first boom signifying the start of the Fireworks Spectacular. Suddenly, all is silent as friends and family huddle together, basking in the glow.

For more from Claremont’s Fourth of July, visit and view the star-spangled photo gallery.

—Beth Hartnett


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