Following a morning parade Tuesday, July 4, families flocked to Moreno Valley’s Morrison Park to celebrate in the holiday heat and snag spots to watch the evening fireworks show.
Security was tight, with event security staff looking in people’s bags and running metal-detecting wands over their bodies before letting them enter the family festival.
That security is one of the things Moreno Valley resident Stacy Montejano, 42, likes about the event.
“We come here every year. It’s a safe environment for the kids,” she said, adding that there are “not a lot of parks you can go to around here and not have to worry about things” like weapons or drugs.
A veteran who said she served four years in the Air Force, Montejano was shooting hoops with her son, Matthew Montejano, 11. They wore matching caps with an American flag design.
For Matthew, the holiday is about family. His favorite way to celebrate Independence Day is playing with his brother and spending time with his mom, he said.
As the temperature climbed above 100 degrees, people crossed the grass pulling wagons loaded with picnic blankets and coolers full of snacks and drinks, and most brought umbrellas or pop-up tents to give them shade.
Vendors had set up booths to proffer pizza bread, kettle corn and root beer floats. The most popular offering seemed to be funnel cakes, which were available at three different stands.
Other tents were selling red, white and blue souvenirs, bubble guns and face painting. Children jumped in a bounce house shaped like a birthday cake.
The family atmosphere drew Connie Ford, 74, and her husband and daughter all the way from Victorville. It was her third year at the Moreno Valley festival.
“Even though we don’t have little kids, it’s fun to just watch the kids play,” she said. “I’m comfortable, I feel good, I get to see the fireworks.”
The family planned to grill steak, potatoes and corn for dinner.
Ford said to her, being an American means “We can come and do what we want and not be afraid.”
Musical performances were provided by the 150-member Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps, which played the Star Spangled Banner, as well as 1990s cover band So Rad, Latin Fusion, and the MVPs, which mixes rock, Latin, swing and pop music.
A fireworks show was planned to cap the evening at 9 p.m.