By Jeff Dixon
Morgan Hill Freedom Fest is excited to bring you the 4th of July Celebration… direct to your homes this year!
It all begins with a broadcast of the Patriotic Singers on July 3 at 6pm. Then, we move into the grand celebration on July 4. At 10am, we will bring you a full live celebration, which will include: over 200 horses, 300 band members and singers, a dozen classic cars, two dozen marching groups and floats, along with special messages from local first responders and essential workers.
As a special surprise, we will have performances by an American Idol Finalist! All of this culminates, of course, with a grand display of fireworks. This show will be broadcast on Public Access Television, as well as on our Facebook page and our YouTube Channel. The direct URLs will be posted on our website: MorganHillFreedomFest.com.
This decision to forego in-person events was not arrived at easily. As always, we began our planning in January, long before the pandemic was public knowledge. Four new chairpersons were added, three from different roles and a fourth who joined us from the Morgan Hill community. Schedules were set, tasks were assigned and activities moved forward.
As Covid-19 conditions worsened, our team held many meetings with city staff, MHPD and Cal Fire. We explored a plethora of options, trying to wait until the last moment to cancel or modify our events. Eventually, we came to the conclusion and agreement that, no matter what, we remained committed to celebrating July 4 as safely and securely as possible. As we always say, “The parade must go on!”
I have always been proud to be part of this organization, never more than this year. Throughout the process, everyone remained positive and focused. Fundraising changed, public relations became more critical, logistics needed to keep suppliers up-to-date with our planning as things changed almost by the minute. We kept pushing to keep our famous live fireworks show on the agenda, until it was ultimately deemed unsafe to do so. It was time to go virtual and produce a broadcast celebration.
This year’s broadcast celebration involves the Patriotic Sing, Car Cruise, Parade and fireworks. The parade team, led by Matthew Stein, was especially impressive. They managed everything from accepting applications and arranging the logistics with the floats and participants, to then filming the entire parade on Flag Day. Horses were filmed at their ranches; bands were filmed separately and everyone from the Boy Scouts to the Patriotic Singers took part in this first-ever virtual parade. Patriotic Singers, led by Mrs. Crane, were able to film a live sing; all done with social distancing, of course. Finally, we were able to partner with Kiwanis and the Morgan Hill Downtown Association to decorate downtown like never before.
So it is with pride and utter awe of the teamwork between everyone from city staff, Kiwanis, Morgan Hill Downtown Association, our team, and our event participants, that I humbly ask you to enjoy the 2020 Freedom Fest.
Jeff Dixon is a Morgan Hill resident and President of Independence Day Celebrations, the Morgan Hill nonprofit that conducts annual Fourth of July festivities in Morgan Hill.