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A new Independence Day parade and festival in King City returns for its second year

COURTESY: JAIMIE FENDER - Mayor Ken Gibson sits on the back of a convertible during last year's First Annual Walk & Roll Parade.When current City Councilor Jaimie Fender moved to King City's Edgewater neighborhood a few years ago, she took part in a small, informal Independence Day celebration that included a short walk to the park, a few hot dogs, and one or two kids' activities.

After a couple years, that tradition disappeared — Fender later learned that the organizers had moved away from town — so she decided to reinstate it.

But she didn't stop there.

"I found myself complaining — wow, this thing's really going downhill! But then I thought, I'm just complaining about something I know nothing about," Fender said when asked how she got involved with planning a Fourth of July 4 celebration. "As I was thinking about it, the event just kind of grew and grew and grew in my mind."

Fender started by talking with her King City neighbors — both the young families in Edgewater, and the older folks in retirement communities. She met with representatives from the KCCA, the city, the Lion's Club, the Edgewater HOA and more. Soon, what had started as an informal meeting of volunteers turned into the King City Community Foundation.

And her year-long effort culminated in last year's First Annual Walk & Roll Parade and Festival on July 4. An estimated 400 people walked in the parade, and more than 1,000 attended the subsequent festival at King City Community Park.

Fender said she was surprised at what she and her team had been able to accomplish — and so were many others, including Mayor Ken Gibson.

"Even the Mayor was like, 'Jaimie, this is an event,'" Fender said, putting an emphasis on 'event.' "I said to him, 'What do you think we've been doing for a year?'"

Fender saw the parade and festival as ways to bring folks out to the King City Community Park, which she said is underutilized. She also viewed it as an opportunity to unite the town's different generations.

"The 55-and-older King City and the younger King City, no one mixes," Fender said. "The way the two communities communicate isn't the same, so there's no participation."

The King City Community Foundation has followed up its first successful event with several others in the past year, including an all-ages Halloween event at King City Senior Village, a firefighter appreciation event and the first annual Mayor's Golf Tournament this past May. Fender said she hopes to implement more events over the next couple years.

"Because King City doesn't have a Parks and Recreation Department, I see the Foundation as a way to focus on community cohesion and development," she added.

Still, the July 4 parade and festival remains the foundation's most impressive endeavor.

"It was wildly successful," she said. "This year we have a lot to live up to."

Whereas last year's festival featured 27 vendors, there will be at least 50 vendors this year. Fender brought in several private sponsors this year, and also partnered with local organizations like the Lion's Club, which will collect all recyclables and returnables at the festival.

And like last year, this year's event will include those special King City touches — like an entire fleet of patriotic golf carts in the parade — that can appeal to young and old alike.

"We just want to bring all sides of the city together," Fender said about the festival and her foundation, "and we'll continue to do that."

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If you go

The Second Annual Walk & Roll Parade and Festival starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 4, with a Classic Car Rally in the KCCA parking lot, 15245 S.W. 116th Ave. The parade will depart from City Hall, 15300 S.W. 116 Ave., across the street from the KCCA lot, and culminates in a festival at King City Community Park, 17470 S.W. Montague Way. The festival will end at 2 p.m.

A shuttle will travel from the KCCA Club House to the park every half hour during the event.

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