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Guest column by Jeff Dixon: Volunteers and the community vital to 4th events

Nonprofit works year-round to put on parade, patriotic sing, street dance, car show and fireworks

Published in the May 10 – 23, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Jeff Dixon

Jeff Dixon

Each year for the past 14 years, as part of the Independence Day Celebration family I continue to be amazed by the generous support that comes from the city of Morgan Hill, its businesses and residents. We are blessed to be part of what is truly a community effort.

The Morgan Hill Freedom Fest continues to keep alive our community legacy of celebrating July 4th and our country’s freedoms. Made possible by the dedicated efforts of 20 year-round and more than 500 event volunteers, it counts on the generous financial support of local businesses and residents. This year is no different.

Costs increase every year. This year, we’ll see them rise again. Although the volunteers are not paid and many in-kind donations help keep costs down, the cost of running six events in two days is well more than $150,000.

The fundraising team has exciting ways to recognize our supporters. Free entries in our car show, 5K run or world-class parade, along with preferred seating at the Family Street Dance, Fireworks on the Green show or parade route are some of the ways your support will be recognized.

We also have ad space in our award-winning program. Sponsor levels run from as little as $250 up to $25,000 leaving room for any level of participation. They include Patriot — $250, Independence — $375 and Liberty — $750. At the corporate levels, they are Celebrate America — $1,500, Freedom — $2,500, Stars and Stripes Forever — $5,000, America the Beautiful — 10,000, We the People — $15,000 and Star Spangled Banner — $25,000.
Donations allow IDC to ensure our parade, now in its 142nd year, remains the best in Northern California. It also enables us to put on the Family Street Dance downtown and fund the fireworks show with new, exciting displays year after year.

Of course, money isn’t the main reason Freedom Fest happens. Volunteers are. Each event is run by dedicated chairperson(s) who have full lives and are not in the professional event planning business. Most of them work year-round to make the celebrations a reality.

As we often remark to each other, it seems that just as we complete one year’s events, we are starting on the next. After July 4 we take a collective breath while wrapping our events with after action reviews, clearing payables and receivables as well enjoying volunteer recognition. Then we are onto our newest event, the Veterans Day Run in November.

After a break for the holidays, we start all over in January with steering committee and planning meetings all the way through June to prepare for the annual Freedom Fest.

Many event chairs and supporting volunteers have been doing these events for decades. They in turn are supported by tens to hundreds of volunteers who handle everything from vendor coordination to street closures to permits to entertainment.

Each year as the event dates approach, these folks go into high gear to provide unique and fun Independence Day celebrations for the South Valley community. This year promises to be even more fun.

We will start July 3 at the Patriotic Sing at the Downtown Amphitheater at the Community and Cultural Center, then move farther downtown for the Family Street Dance. Early the next day, we kick off festivities downtown with the 5K/1 Mile Run starting at City Hall followed by our Car Cruise, then the parade with equestrians, bands, community groups and floats.

After the parade you can enjoy the car show back at the Community and Cultural Center parking lot. Take a short break then head to the Fireworks on the Green Show at the Outdoor Sports Center with fireworks set off after dark. This makes for a fun-filled family day.

To our long-time supporters, we thank you and hope you will continue your support. To our new neighbors, we hope you will see fit to help us throw the best July 4 celebration in California as a sponsor or volunteer.

For more information on the Independence Day Celebration, Inc. Freedom Fest events or to donate or volunteer, please go to www.mhfreedomfest.com or call us at (408) 779-1776.

Jeff Dixon is the president of Independence Day Celebration, Inc. He wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.