In Yoncalla, there are holidays and then, there is the Fourth of July. The annual all-day celebration brings the small town of just over 1,000 people a little bit closer together for an event that is dependent on community support.
“It’s 100 percent from the community, for the community and by the community,” said North Douglas Betterment’s (NDB) development officer Jennifer Bragg.
Bragg, a Yoncalla native who started at NDB in January, has had the Fourth on her mind since taking the job. And with this event, there is a lot to think about.
To kick off this patriotic party is the parade. The parade, run by the Chamber of Commerce, features around 70 different entries ranging from the usual suspects of rodeo queens and local businesses but also features State Senator Floyd Prozanski.
“He’s our horse pooper scooper,” said parade coordinator Vicky Shook who has helped with the parade for the last four years. She added, “I enjoy the fact that (the parade) is celebrating our country, number one, and then we always have a theme and this year we’re honoring our EMTs you know the unsung heroes. Everyday heroes is kind of our theme this year.”
After the parade, there is a full slate of activities: the rodeo at noon; the ice cream social in the afternoon; following that are the “pioneer games” such as three-legged race and potato sack races making their return to the celebration and they will be led by mayor Jerry Cross; live music and dancing in the evening; and then the firework show to put the cherry on top of a full day.
Throughout the year residents in Yoncalla are reminded of the event by donation jars that sit at businesses across the city. The money collected goes into the pot of part of the $15,000 ($12,000 for the fireworks and $3,000 for an added safety feature for the pyro crew) that funds the climactic firework show put on by NDB.
“It’s a lot, it’s huge. I think it’s the best firework show around. It’s amazing, the pyro crew does a great job and they put on a great show every year. And they do this beautiful grand finale. There’s no down time either because once it starts it’s just go, go, go, go,” said Bragg.
There are five donors who contributed a “major gift” of over $1,000 to the event while the rest of the funds have come from various donations including a handful from individuals who no longer live in the city but send money to support the celebration.
While the funding is crucial to being able to light up the sky, what makes the rest of the event go are the people. There are around 100 volunteers throughout the day at the different events and different businesses and organizations take charge to make sure that it is a successful day.
“It is something that everyone in our town is so proud of. It’s like our moment of the year is the Fourth of July and everyone comes out and people have their families come from all over and we’re all so prideful on the Fourth,” said Bragg.