Kenwood Plaza Park, usually tranquil under a broad, shady canopy of oak trees, was alive with excitement on the 4th of July, with all kinds of people running around at daybreak, literally. The 40thAnnual Kenwood Footrace kicked off at 7:30 am with 1,300 racers pounding the pavement. Sponsors set up tents in the park, while across the street the Kenwood Community church organized a well-attended silent auction featuring artwork by local artists and many coveted items provided by local businesses, such as Figone’s olive oil and passes to Morton’s Warm Springs.
After working up an appetite running or shopping people headed to the back yard of the church, a popular spot for summer weddings, for the pancake breakfast. By 9 am there was a line snaking across the street and into the park, waiting for a generous plate of fluffy scrambled eggs, feather light pancakes and maple syrup, sausage, a juicy slice of orange and orange juice. Seating was plentiful with long tables set up in the back yard and a large room inside. It was a good deal for $7, and only $2 for runners.
By 10 am the crowd moved to Warm Springs Road, lining the street in anticipation of the main event, the Kenwood Hometown Parade, returning after a one year hiatus to the delight of the community. Lt. Col. (Ret) Chuck Thelan, the Grand Marshal, was honored by the Kenwood Parade Committee for his service to our country as a pilot in the Air Force for 22 years. Shot down over Germany in World War II he spent more than two years as a POW.
The Kenwood Fire Department led the parade, and for 40 minutes the crowd was entertained by a collection of creative floats, goats, chickens, horses, dogs, kids, and classic cars, culminating with the King and Queen of Kenwood, looking regal. Some of the imaginative floats included a bedspread made entirely of carnations from Birmingham B&B, a truck papered in clippings from the Kenwood Press, with avid readers of the newspaper sitting in the back of the truck, and a troupe from Vita Bella who repeatedly assembled and disassembled a room as they moved down the street, demonstrating that they could decorate a room in no time at all.
After the parade, as the summer sun warmed up, the silent auction wrapped up with some lucky winners clutching their goods, while others disappointedly watched as they were outbid. In the park the Valley of the Moon Alliance, a watchdog organization that promotes the preservation, protection and maintenance of the agricultural character and natural resources of Sonoma Valley, provided a free barbeque, enticing revelers with the aroma of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.
It was a busy day in Kenwood with all the activities that honored the independence of our country and strengthened the ties of our small community.
To reach Kenwood from San Francisco by car (approximately 1 hour, 20 min, depending on traffic):
- Take U.S. 101 North
- Take Exit 460 A to Hwy 37
- Bear left on CA-121 (Arnold Dr) toward Sonoma/Napa and stay on Arnold Dr
- Turn right on Madrone Rd
- Turn left on CA-12 (Sonoma Hwy)
- Turn left on Warm Springs Rd.
- Arrive at Kenwood Plaza Park