Benicia’s Independence Day Parade: A Century Of Tradition

Photo courtesy Benicia Historical Museum
Benicia’s July 4 Parade, 1914

Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue!

I never tire of viewing photographs from our Museum archives, particularly those relating to holiday celebrations from times past; and most especially those that convey the charm of the era. This image from the 1914 Benicia Fourth of July parade features not only a patriotic passel of little girls clutching American flags, but also Miss Helen McCarthy, dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

On the back of the photo, Helen is also referred to as the “queen” of the parade, so one may assume that the elected queen was requested to dress as the famous “Lady with the Lamp,” and that the cherubic children gathered around her constitute her court. Over the years, the Independence Day celebrations in Benicia have included parades, live music, games, living-story demonstrations, speeches, and, of course, fireworks, flag-waving and family picnics.

I have learned that there was also an annual essay contest inviting students to write about the events that led up to the drafting and signing of our nation’s 1776 Declaration of Independence, drawn up by the members of the Continental Congress of the thirteen American colonies who declared themselves to be “a new nation … the United States of America.” The winner of this annual Independence Day essay contest was announced and awarded during the July 4th parade. I think it is time to bring back this valuable tradition to underline the significance of the day and to remind ourselves of how very fortunate we are to live in “… the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Three cheers for the red, white and blue!

Categories: Arts + Culture, Community, Education, History

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