Local residents once again filled Wheatfield Sports Park in Menifee on June 30 for the 17th annual Fourth of July celebration. “We’ve got a great crowd, good turnout, parade was great,” said Marcy Riehm. It began with a parade that left from Mount San Jacinto’s Menifee campus, ending at the sports park.
This year 22 groups participated in the parade, including the winners of local beauty pageants, a Cub Scout group, several cheer groups and workers from the local fire station. The position of Grand Marshall was shared by three special people.
“We have three veterans,” said Riehm. “Our oldest one, Colonel John Councilmen of the Marine Corps, was a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. We also have Navy HCMS Chris Proctor, and he is a veteran of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and the first Desert Storm, and then our youngest is Marine Corporal Steven Savard, and he is a veteran of the Iraq conflict right now; he just came home [last] September.”
This year, the celebration featured 64 vendors, topping last year’s total of forty-five. “We have more vendors and more food vendors this year,” said Riehm. Despite the heat, record numbers of people attended the celebration. “It’ll be thousands, I’m sure. Every year is a little different, but I’m sure a couple thousand at least – three or four thousand.”
The event also featured a DJ, a sack race, demonstrations by Tammy’s Dance Studio and Thomas Martial Arts and a popular pie-eating contest. “We start with the 5-year-olds,” said Riehm, “and go all the way to the adults.”
“Also, the firefighters and sheriff’s department are both here representing, and we also have the Sun City Crime Watch, the Strike Force here – they helped do the security for the parade and they are all [senior citizen] volunteers. They were super helpful. They are called the strike force because they go out and do events beyond Sun City.”
For the second year, the Women’s Club applied for a grant and received an extra $5,000 from Supervisor Jeff Stone’s office. “Jeff Stone again supported the organization and the festival,” said Riehm. “They made it possible again.”
However, 90 percent of the funding for the celebration comes from the Women’s Club itself. “The volunteers from the Lake Menifee Women’s Club work all year at this concession stand – at this snack bar here – to raise the money to put this on every year, and all the other events we have.” The Women’s Club also holds events for Easter, Halloween and Christmas, but the Fourth of July celebration is by far their biggest and is one of the most popular events in the Menifee Valley.
The biggest draw of the event is, of course, the fireworks display that concludes each Fourth of July celebration. This year’s display was among the largest ever put on by the Women’s Club.