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The fireworks are spectacular every year. (Click photos for larger images.)

You couldn’t have asked for better weather to celebrate Independence Day in Rancho Murieta. This Fourth of July dialed back the heat to deliver a sunny day with temperatures consistent with a great round on the North Course. It was the perfect day to do a 5K run, have a pancake breakfast, watch a parade, go to a carnival, dance at sunset, and end the evening with fireworks at the front lake. And thousands of residents did just that with friends and family. We have 275 photos, scattered across Rancho Murieta's July 4, to prove it.

Several residents reported losing beach chairs they put out Tuesday to hold their places on Murieta Parkway, possibly a coordinated theft, since Tommy Bahama chairs seemed to be the only ones taken. Security Chief Jeff Werblun said he hadn't yet heard about the chairs, and the only problems Security had to address Wednesday involved fireworks, legal and illegal.

From early morning to well past dark, here's a look at July 4 in Rancho Murieta.

Fun Run

Fun Run

→ Gallery: 10 photos from the Fun Run 

The 5K Fun Run marked its 38th race, which makes it older than the community's July 4 parade. The parade started in 1982; the race started as the "Rattlesnake Run" in 1981, longtime organizer John McNamee recalls. He has been part of 36 of the 38 races. Erin Howard, owner of Murieta Health Club, has sponsored the event for the last 16 years.

This year's race didn't set any speed records, but it did feature 180 contestants running the adult course on a morning made for a run.

The male winners were Chas O'Bear at 16:54, Paul Branson at 17:30 and Donovan Guertin at 18:08. The female winners were Dorima Walker at 22:26, Melissa Branson at 22:35 and Brooke Hanson at 22:51.

After the adult race wrapped up, the kids ran races across the street.

Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast

July 4 hat

With a hat that captured the essence of Rancho Murieta's July 4 celebration – golf carts, fireworks, a pancake breakfast and, no kidding, a towering tree with a bald eagle nest on top – 11-year-old Brooke Whichard won the July 4 hat contest's top prize at the Kiwanis' pancake breakfast

→ Gallery: 52 photos from the Pancake Breakfast

The annual breakfast event moved to Stonehouse Park this year and remained as red, white and blue and bustling as ever, but with more space and less traffic congestion. Kiwanis and Key Club volunteers were joined by Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost as they heaped plates high with scrambled eggs, pancakes and sausage, and poured gallons of orange juice for the grateful multitudes. A gentle breeze fluttered the decorations, and tents set up by the Rancho Murieta Association shaded workers and diners alike from the bright morning sun.

The hat contest provided entertainment during the breakfast. Contestants wowed the crowd with flights of fancy,  and a towering creation by Brooke Whichard, 11, took top honors. Not only did this amazing chapeau celebrate a Rancho Murieta Fourth of July with decorated golf carts, fireworks, and the pancake breakfast, its apex paid homage to our resident bald eagles. Brooke’s name will be inscribed on the trophy displayed at the Local Bean Cafe in the Plaza. Allie Blaisdell, 9, took second place, and Christian Lozada, 10, was third.



→ Gallery: 167 photos from the parade

The chairs and blankets get set out early for the best spots to see the parade since its popularity seems to grow each year. This year, spectators lined Murieta Parkway and spilled into the median to bear witness to the community’s spirit on parade and also to collect the candy tossed out by the participants. The parade begins with fire trucks, followed by scouts, Local Heroes, Little League floats, kids on bikes, humble golf carts transformed into everything from Christmas in July to Ariel’s Grotto, and, last but not least, classic cars that dreams are made of. The parade is organized by the Rancho Murieta Association.

Parade winners, provided by the Rancho Murieta Association:

Girls Division

  • Winners: Kinsley and Leighton Bryla
  • Honorable Mention: Allie Blaisdell

Boys Division

  • Winners: Brody Blaisdell
  • Honorable Mention: Valen Aetherwyn

Boy/Girl Combo

  • Honorable Mention: Julie and Evan Tarantino

Golf Cart Division


  • Lillich, Adams and McBeath Families – Rancho Murieta Safari Co.
  • Allen Family – Olympics
  • Smith Family – Smith’s Donuts
  • Heltman and Becthetti Families – Sea to Shining Sea
  • Mason and Rico Families – Christmas in July
  • Carroll Family – Fourth of July
  • Lindsay Family – Candy Land
  • Dubey Family – '50s
  • Davis Family – Hunting and Fishing
  • Baggaley Family – Tiki Bar

Honorable Mention

  • Barnes Family – Ariel’s Grotto
  • Keyes Family – Hollywood
  • Francis Family – Fourth of July
  • Julian Family – Army
  • Spencer Family – Jungle Cruise
  • Batchelder Family – Fourth of July
  • Madrigal and Aquino Families – Love
  • Block Family – Hawaiian
  • Cornwell Family – Hawaiian
  • Lembach Family – Happy Fourth of July



→ Gallery: 20 photos from the Carnival

The Optimist Club carnival at Lake Clementia is all about the children, and the freedom to race from one activity to another. The carnival features water slides, a bounce house, games of strength and skill, crafts, and a hot dog lunch for the kids. Plus, it’s a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts, who operate the popular snow cone concession, and it's a favorite family picnic and swimming venue.

Dancing and fireworks


→ Gallery: 26 photos from dancing and fireworks

Before the fireworks, there’s dancing at the Gazebo. This year there was hip-hop music and the largest group of dancers in recent memory, with everyone from a babe in arms to an 81-year-old great-grandmother on the dance floor. They danced in lines, they danced solo, and as darkness fell, there were more and more people, and the dance moves were more and more ambitious.

The fireworks display always earns the crowd’s oohs and ahhs, with each year proclaimed as the best ever. As the brilliant colors explode and light the night sky, who could argue with that?

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