gmhTODAY 26 gmhTODAY June July 2019 - Page 54

THREE PREMIER SUMMER EVENT LEADERS: The Making of Successful Events Written By Jordan Rosenfeld M Jeff Dixon organ Hill loves to celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July. There’s the signature parade of multiple generations of Morgan Hill residents, from the very young to the most senior among us, making their way through downtown in red, white and blue regalia. There’s the powerful boom of massive fi reworks exploding overhead at the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center on Condit Road, and so much more. In fact, celebrating Independence Day “is part of recorded history that goes as far as 1876,” according to Jeff Dixon, President of Independence Day Celebration Inc. (IDC), the nonprofit that puts on the Freedom Fest and its many related events each year. It’s no surprise to Dixon that there’s so much volunteer love in the community. “Morgan Hill is a tight-knit community, making it feel more small town than it actually is,” Dixon said. Independence Day was hosted by a variety of organizations over the years, including the city,” Dixon explained. “When the city stopped doing it, the Chamber of Commerce took over in the 80s.” As of 1999, IDC formed, and in 2011, it morphed into its current organizational structure comprised of six volunteer 54 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN board members and one paid professional. IDC puts on seven events between July 3 rd and July 4th every year. Dixon said that the board “is a patriotic group for sure, with a high appreciation of the freedoms we have in America.” He also said they are very community minded and believe in “a high standard of American values.” This year’s theme for the festival is “Songs that America Sings.” On July 3rd, the Freedom Fest events kick off at 6 pm with the Patriotic Sing, a Morgan Hill tradition that began in the late 1980s, at the Morgan Hill Amphitheater at the Morgan Hill Community & Cultural Center. It’s run by Morgan Hill’s 2019 Woman of the Year, Karen Crane. Crane, who teaches in the Morgan Hill Unified School District, brings together approximately 150 children for patriotic songs, as she has been for the past thirty years. During rehearsals, the singers bring donations for our US military troops, which are then packaged and sent to the troops with notes of encouragement by the South Bay Chapter of Blue Star Moms. This is followed by the Family Music Fest that evening, a downtown street dance, with food and beverages for the community. Early on the morning of the 4th, motivated athletes can don their running garb at 6:45 am for the Freedom Run 5K, which takes place in honor of military veterans. Fundraising Chair Charles Weston, a local architect and long-time running enthusiast, oversees the run with the support of Treasurer Kim Moyano and Kathleen Davis, Vice President of Operations. If jogging it out on the roads isn’t quite your thing, inter- ested viewers can stop to admire vintage cars as part of the Car Cruise and Show that begins at 9 am. That leads up to the star of the show, the Fourth of July Parade, from 10 am to 12 pm, followed by a car show until 3 pm. The jewel of the celebration, however, is the Fireworks on the Green, with professional fireworks put on by Fireworks of America. The Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center opens as early as 3 pm, where participants can take advantage of food and beverages. Entertainment begins with two head- liner bands at 6 pm, The Usual Suspects and The Cocktail Monkeys. “This year we’ll have tighter security…[related to]serving beer and wine,” Dixon said. There will be a gate check to prevent any outside beverages from coming in. Dixon said he’s proud “that we have made a community- based, all volunteer organization into what it is. Even though it’s all volunteer, we really do a professional job.” The group is always looking for interested volunteers, Dixon said. “It only keeps going when people stay involved. It’s a fun group and an honor to put this on for our neighbors.” june/july 2019