Ashland gears up for Fourth of July

This year's Ashland Fourth of July Parade participants are readying themselves for a trek within the city's annual and sure-to-be-bodacious display of the community's unique portrait of patriotism.

For local musician Paul Schmeling, Independence Day, in one way, means digging out and dusting off the noodle costumes for Macaroni's Marching Noodles, the local restaurant's longtime parade entry.

Schmeling, who tends bar at Martino's Bar and Macaroni's Ristorante, says the band of 10 marching noodles hardly rehearses before the parade anymore, having won the grand winner award for its entry in the 2004 edition of the celebration.

There is a golden screaming eagle perching on top of a red, white and blue trophy Macaroni's received from Ashland's Chamber of Commerce for its band of musical noodles and chefs from that year's parade, Schmeling says. The trophy towers above the restaurant's others on display, he says.

The marching noodles will have plenty of company Wednesday.

"We're looking forward to welcoming over 20,000 folks," says Katharine Flanagan, marketing director for the Chamber of Commerce.

This year's theme, "Freedom to Learn," she says, is well-suited for Ashland.

"We have highly educated citizens here in Ashland, and very highly educated visitors," she says. "We're happy to have created a theme that evokes participation from our community."

The parade, which begins with an F-15 fighter-jet flyover scheduled for 10:15 a.m., will launch from Triangle Park and flow down Siskiyou Boulevard and East Main Street until turning right at the Ashland Plaza onto Water Street.

The procession will include clowns, bands, beauty queens, children's entries, gymnasts, trick bikes, horses, faith-based floats, political candidates, social-service entries and historical vehicles.

And, of course, head noodle Schmeling will be gasping for the reed of his saxophone while fronting the march of his jazz-based noodle and cook band.

The costume noodles are made out of a foam and rubber tube with neck and arm holes, Schmeling says, and the band boasts two saxophones, trombones and trumpets, three drums, and one cowbell.

Wednesday's daylong set of events kicks off at 7:45 a.m. at the Ashland library with a 6-mile run and, 15 minutes later, a 2-mile run.

The annual pre-parade breakfast at the Ashland Elks Lodge is from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. It's pancakes, biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage links, fruit cup, juices and coffee. The cost is $7, $4 for those ages 10 and younger.

Vendor booths will open at 9 a.m. in Lithia Park, and the Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon's wildflower show will be in the Ashland Community Center, across from the park.

A shoulder-to-shoulder crowd will follow the parade down the street, headed for the pubs and booth-lined Winburn Way along Lithia Park.

"I always like a good Fourth of July Parade," Jim Olson, of Ashland, says. "I like all of the different types of music, all of the different points of view, and just everybody having a good time."

Olson's family typically watches the snaking mob of patriotism from the Evo's Coffee Lounge parking lot on East Main Street, he says, and he, and his wife and daughter "jig and jive to the passing bands."

Olson, who has lived in Ashland for the last 12 years, but grew up mostly in Klamath Falls, says he immersed himself in the Love Generation during the 1960s.

"Whether we agree or disagree with the state of politics at the time, the parade is something everyone can enjoy," Olson says.

James Boone, 65, of Ashland, says, he won't be making the short walk from his home to Siskiyou Boulevard to see the parade, which he has grown accustom to during his eight-year residence in Ashland.

"When the jets fly over it terrifies my dog," he says. "I'm impressed by the jets flying over, but I often worry about showing off military capabilities. "… I would rather not see us worshiping military in the celebration of our greater independence."

Even so, the parade seems to have grown in size since he's lived in Ashland, Boone says, but he'd rather attend the Children's Halloween Parade, because he has a 3-year-old grandson who enjoys it.

Footage of the parade will be streamed live on the Ashland Chamber of Commerce website:, Flannagan says, "which is great, because my family can watch it from New Hampshire."

Ashland Lions' chicken barbecue will serve from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the park. The Ashland City Band, Brothers and Craig Wright and Friends will perform from 12:30 to 4:50 p.m. at the park's Butler Band Shell.

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg will deliver an address at 1:15 p.m., followed by the traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence from the band shell.

Later, attention will turn toward Ashland's fireworks display, which will light up the sky at 10 p.m. from the athletic fields at SOU, at Siskiyou Boulevard and Wightman Street. No personal fireworks are allowed.

Not far away, the American Band College Fireworks Concert will start at 8 p.m. at the Ashland High School stadium, off South Mountain Avenue.

When fireworks begin showering the skies at dark, the concert music will play in tempo with the bursts of color. The event will feature a multimedia performance of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," with narration, big-screen video and a full choir. World War II veterans will be introduced. The American Band College is composed of directors of 180 bands, middle school through college, from across the nation. Admission to the show costs $18 for adults and is free for kids.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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