Thousands of people ringed Lodi Lake to make America's birthday Tuesday during the all-day "4th at the Lake" event. As day gave way to night, the dark sky gave way to the brilliant red, white, blue and gold fireworks that many waited all day to see.
Tami Hilscher was among the first of an estimated 3,200 people who came to the lake.
At 6:30 a.m., Hilscher and her family and friends were among the first in line to get into the lake. By 6 p.m., the group had already rode the pedal boats three times, spent time at the children's area, watched Habanero Hots' boat take first place in the Milk Carton Regatta, and were camped out comfortably on the Lake's eastern shore in hopes they had the best spot for the show.
"This is our first time in this spot. We're hoping it's (a good spot)," said Hilscher, who has attended the event for the past 15 years.
Throughout the day, families and others sat on the shore, tossed Frisbees and listened to classic rock cover songs coming from the tree-shrouded stage at the north end of the lake.
Embracing on the grass near the stage, Steve and Marcie Sellars appeared to be enjoying themselves. But what was the best part of the holiday?
"Getting out of the house, no yard work - kind of worry-free," said Steve Sellars.
For Army National Guard Sgt. Louie Tremor, who manned the guard's booth flanked by a Hummer and a M105 Alpha self-propelled howitzer, the Fourth of July means one thing: Freedom.
"Freedom to be out here and see everybody free. That's why we do it," said Tremor, who is stationed at the armory in Lodi and lives in Manteca.
The crowd apparently was well-behaved throughout the day, said Lodi Police Lt. Bill Barry. Officers arrested one man for being drunk in public, and the throng of people getting in their cars and leaving the event led to several vehicle accidents and one driving under-the-influence arrest when a drunken driver who struck another car at Turner and Lower Sacramento roads fled the scene, became disoriented and returned to the scene moments later, Barry said.
"It was a pretty typical day at the lake," Barry said.
Contact reporter Jake Armestrong at firstname.lastname@example.org
First published: Wednesday, July 5, 2006