Inyo County ready for Fourth of July

Register File Photo
Darcy Ellis
Staff Writer

Barbecues, pie and ice cream socials, trail runs, free public swimming, pyrotechnics displays at two county airports, kids games at three local parks and one very special parade are all on Saturday’s agenda as the communities of Bishop, Big Pine and Independence celebrate the Fourth of July.
The City of Bishop, Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department and Independence Civic Club are once again hosting a variety of July 4 events for residents and visitors in their respective communities. The hosts will be bringing back the usual favorites while also introducing some new additions to their annual event lineups, such as the exhibition baseball game in Bishop.
Festivities start as early as Friday night in the county seat, beginning with the traditional pre-Fourth music and dancing, and conclude with the professional fireworks shows staged by the Independence and Bishop volunteer firefighters once the sun sets on Saturday.
Following is a look at what’s in store for those wanting to take part in the community celebrations.
With a name like Independence, the county seat is expected to put on a good Fourth of July party and for the past seven decades or more, it has yet to disappoint.
Revelers can take the opportunity to get in the celebratory mood by attending the July 3 dance from 8 p.m. to midnight at Dehy Park.
Those who didn’t stay until midnight will be rising bright and early for the 6:15 a.m. flag-raising ceremony, which helps kick off the day’s many festivities. Registration for the popular 4K/4-Mile Run/Walk starts at 6:30 a.m., right about the time volunteers start flipping flapjacks for the famous pancake breakfast at Dehy Park. The race starts promptly at 7:30 a.m., while the breakfast continues to 9 a.m.
An arts and crafts show on the lawn of the historic courthouse opens at 8 a.m., giving residents and visitors a half-hour of shopping time before David Woodruff’s Historic Independence Walking Tour at 8:30 a.m. The tour leaves from Dehy Park.
Spectators will want to be back to the courthouse by 10 a.m. when the famous July 4 parade starts.
A traditional procession that gives residents a chance to show off their patriotic pride, the Independence parade is an all-inclusive mobile celebration. Entries range from kids with their dogs to farmers on their tractors to bedraggled but good-natured Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers who make it a point to come down from the Sierra and be a part of the festivities.
The parade also gives the town of Independence a chance each year to honor residents who have made a difference in their community. This year, the grand marshal honors have gone to John and Philip Baxter.
According to the Civic Club, the Baxter Family – who most know for their honey sold throughout Inyo County – has been a part of Independence and Owens Valley history since the late 1800s. “The Baxter name is even on one of the Sierra’s rugged mountain passes – Baxter Pass,” a press release states.
John Baxter’s 1968 Chevy flatbed pickup is featured on the 2015 Independence July 4 commemorative T-shirt.
After working up an appetite in the morning, revelers can again make their way to Dehy Park for the noon pie social, followed by a spelling bee for children and adults at 12:30 p.m., Old Time Kids’ Games at 2 and a deep-pit barbecue from 4-6:30 p.m.
Beat the heat during the afternoon with free swimming at the Owens Valley School from 1-6 p.m. – Saturday and Sunday – and then settle in around dusk for the grand finale: a fireworks display at the Independence Airport.
Early birds are also being offered activities in Big Pine. The Annual Big Pine Firemen’s Fourth of July 5/10K Trail Fun Run and Breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m. at the fire station, located off of Main Street adjacent to the baseball fields.
The run takes participants on one of the most scenic routes in the county: From Mendenhall Park toward Baker Creek Road, then – for the 10K runners – into the foothills south of Baker Creek campgrounds or – for the 5K runners – along the grasslands north of town.
Registration is $30 and includes breakfast, a T-shirt and a finisher’s pin. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.
Breakfast runs until 10 a.m. and is open to the public. It typically includes a hearty spread for a nominal fee that supports the fire department.
Mid-morning will give way to mid-afternoon when the firefighters start preparing for the famously mouthwatering barbecue they put on from 3-6 p.m. Families are invited and encouraged to hang out at Mendenhall Park all day, playing games and socializing, as the feast is prepared and then consumed. The menu includes ribs or chicken, beans, salads, watermelon and ice cream for $13 for adults and children and $8 for seniors. All proceeds support the firefighters. Takeout orders are welcome.
For more information, contact Derrick Carrington at (760) 920-8313 or Rich Coffman at (760) 938-2737.
The City of Bishop is bringing back its “Big Day at the Park” this Saturday, with a range of activities lasting from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Spectators are invited to come watch an exhibition baseball game that City Administrator Jim Tatum said should be a high-caliber affair featuring college-level and higher players. The game will take place at Field 4.
Residents and visitors are also encouraged to make the most out of the other sporting facilities at the park, including the tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and bocce ball court. Bocce balls may be checked out at the City Pool, where swimming will be offered at no charge from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Entertainment is also being offered in the form of live music beginning at 2 p.m., about the time city staff and volunteers will start serving up free watermelon, pie and ice cream.
Festivities come to a close at 4 so residents and visitors have time to get out to the Bishop Airport and stake out a claim for the continuation of July 4 celebrations.
Gates to the airport open at 3 p.m. and the grounds there are considered one of the safest places in the county to light off Safe and Sane fireworks. Admission is $20 a carload and everyone is welcome. Many people bring barbecues, lawn games, even inflatable pools to pass the time as they wait for the Bishop Volunteer Firefighters’ pyrotechnics show, which starts about 9 p.m.
The firefighters’ pay for the show themselves, and at $30,000-plus, it’s no drop in the bucket. Gate fees help to offset some of the cost, which Fire Chief Ray Seguine noted rises each year, but donations are also gladly accepted to help make up the difference.
For more information, call the Bishop Fire Department at (760) 873-5485.