Aided by volunteers en masse, Bolinas pulls off July Fourth without a hitch

07/10/2019

The Fourth of July celebration in Bolinas went relatively smoothly, thanks to its dedicated organizers and a groundswell of volunteers. Around 5,000 people came to town on the holiday, though 2,000 of those headed straight to the Palomarin trailhead. The fire department responded to seven emergency calls: a man who rolled his A.T.V., a woman who was short of breath, a miscommunication, a car in a ditch, an intoxicated person and a man with a lacerated finger from a firecracker. “This was a great Fourth,” said Matt Lewis, who is stepping down from a 13-year term as president of the Briones Lions Club, the event’s organizer since 1971. The tradition dates back to the start of that century, but attendance doubled over the past two decades. In 2000, just 20 Lions club volunteers could manage the event; this year 90 people volunteered. “With so many people coming to Bolinas, this is really a community affair now: local businesses, the sheriff’s and fire departments, the Lion’s club and so many community volunteers all pitched in,” Mr. Lewis said. Organizers took several new precautions this year. After Lt. Jim Hickey pulled a boy from under a moving vehicle in the parade last year, the sheriff’s office had recommendations. Delineators were newly erected along the parade route and floats were required to have three people walking alongside, one in front and one on each side. Anyone giving out candy had to do so by hand. As usual, downtown was closed to traffic and caution tape lined the streets below the Big Mesa to discourage parking, which was offered at Mesa Park. “All in all, it was a mellow day,” said Steve Marcotte, an assistant fire chief in Bolinas. Adding to the good cheer were victories, in below-average times, by the men’s and women’s tug-of-war competitions with Stinson Beach. The women won in 2.5 minutes, while the men took just over five; the averages are around 8 minutes, Mr. Lewis explained. Mike Aitken, a Lions Club member who revived the tug in the ‘70s, retired from the work of organizing it last Thursday. “It’s about time,” he said. The women have now won eight years in a row, the men two. Three and four years ago, the men lost after a long winning streak. “But the women always dominate,” said Mr. Lewis, a Stinson Beach native. “It’s the Barbie dolls in Stinson Beach versus the cowgirls in Bolinas.” Mr. Lewis said that preparing for the celebration has been a part-time job since April, and a full-time job for the last month—none of his labor paid. He’s handing over the reins to Evan Waterman, though Mr. Lewis said the club will reassess how to ease the burden of the position, and will even consider not hosting the event next year.