Break out your red, white and blue and join the Lodi Concert Band at the annual Celebrate America this Wednesday at Hutchins Street Square.
As traditional patriotic hymns fill the air, families gather in the West Park at the Square to listen as the band pays homage to the country through music.
The concert will open with a jazz ensemble performance, and will be followed by a variety of patriotic songs and marches. This year the concert band will perform songs from “Les Miserables,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Captain America” and a “Star Wars” medley, according to flutist Janie Siess.
“We play a march for each branch of the military, like ‘Anchors Away’ for the Navy, and we have veterans stand as their march plays. It is important that we recognize the folks who served their country and express our patriotism,” she said.
Director Arthur Holton enjoys leading the band through his favorite pieces — “Let Freedom Ring” and “Stars and Stripes Forever” — because he likes looking into the crowd and seeing the reaction it draws from the audience.
“There is nothing like music to bring everyone’s spirits up and create a sense of unity,” he said.
For many, Celebrate America is a Lodi tradition, city recreation manager Jennifer Winn said.
“We have hosted this event since the ’80s, and it draws a large crowd because it is a tradition for a lot of people. It kicks off summer and leads the Fourth of July activities,” she said.
The concert attracts local residents and visitors alike because it embodies Lodi’s small-town charm, she added.
“Celebrate America is the closest thing to living in Mayberry. It has that Americana, small-town feel,” Siess said.
As families unfurl blankets, lay out their picnic baskets and toss Frisbees, there’s a sense of nostalgia, she said.
“This year the Stockton Portsmen Barbershop Chorus will perform, and our headliner will be the United States Air Force Band,” Winn said.
After the musical program, community tap dancers will perform and a city council member will read a declaration.
Celebrate America will conclude with the fire department raising a giant American Flag on their ladder truck.
The festivities continue after a good night’s sleep with the annual pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Lodi Lake, hosted by the Kiwanis of Greater Lodi.
“We will be celebrating our 50th anniversary this year,” club member Chet Somera said.
The pancake breakfast draws in a crowd of 3,500 to 4,000 people every year. People look forward to the breakfast because it brings the community together, Somera said.
“It is a family-oriented event. We have face painting and music. Its something everyone can enjoy, and it has become a tradition that many people have grown up with,” he said.
One rising tradition is riding a bike to the breakfast, encouraged by a free bike valet service offered by Bike Lodi. Volunteers with Bike Lodi work in teams to gather a person’s information and a contact number before safely parking the bike in a secure place, Bike Lodi President Kathryn Siddle said.
“Biking is a perfect alternative for people who don’t want to fight for parking, and it is a fun way to start the morning,” she said. “During the pancake breakfast, Turner Road is closed off, so people can ride their bike down the middle of Turner.”
Since Bike Lodi began the bike valet service in 2017, more people have been riding their bikes to the event instead of taking their car.
“In 2017 we valeted 273 bikes, and in 2018 we had 425 bikes,” Siddle said. “My goal is to get 600 bikes. It would just be amazing to have more people on bikes this year.”
The bike valet is only available during the pancake breakfast. A valet service at night would be too hectic, Siddle said.
The breakfast will be followed by a day full of vendors, games and entertainment at July Fourth at the Lake. The beach and boat house will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimming at the beach will cost $3 per person, and rentals of pedal boats, single and tandem kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards will be available.
This year, the fireworks show will have 40% more fireworks shells. The city has purchased larger fireworks, which have a higher airborne trajectory, said Jeff Hood, director of Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.
“We have a new fireworks company that we work with and this year we will have a water feature, which is a water floating apparatus,” Winn said.
The fireworks display will begin at 9:30 p.m.