As I stood at the corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street on Wednesday morning, though, I couldn’t help but answer that question with “Yes, the parade has become a Tracy holiday fixture, and it’s here to stay.”
While chatting in the shade at the corner Wednesday with Art Serpa and Al Moreno, two veterans of the war in Korea, I also looked around and saw middle-aged Tracyites and a good number of parents and their children watching the parade pass by.
Yes, the parade is here to stay, I told myself, but most importantly, it is a salute to their county that many generations can experience — some as parade participants, but most as spectators watching from both sides of the street.
Not surprisingly, the parade isn’t perfect. There are too many major gaps, and it could definitely use at least one marching band. But overall, it’s what a Fourth of July parade should be.
Right in front of me at 10th and Central, a young girl dressed in a sparkling red, white and blue outfit was greeting each parade unit with a wild wave of her arms and a cheer.
As I watched her animated greetings, I said to myself that her red, white and blue enthusiasm epitomized what the Fourth of July parade is all about.
I told her dad, who was standing nearby, that his daughter for me was “Miss Fourth of July.” Scott Conner smiled and replied that Crystal, age 7, was an energetic kid willing to take part in any number of activities — and the Fourth of July parade was certainly no exception.
A parade that can create that kind of memories for a 7-year-old girl and her family is definitely an annual event worth continuing — and promoting. I’m not much for over-sentimentality and super flag-waving, but Tracy’s Fourth of July parade is what a patriotic celebration should be about.
You just have to watch kids like Crystal Conner in action to know that without any doubt.
Several weeks ago, I wrote in this space that Catherine “Kay” McGowan, who died recently at the age of 85, deserved recognition for her major role in managing what was originally known as Tracy Community Memorial Hospital — and is now Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.
Just recently, an obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle told of a memorial service planned for another woman who also played an important part in the development of the hospital.
The memorial service was for Emma “Ginny” Fimrite, who died at the age of 94 on Nov. 8, 2011, in Roseville. She served as Tracy hospital’s administrator from 1954 to 1962, the third person to hold that position after the community-built hospital was opened in December 1948.
Fimrite was known as Ginny Gingrich while in Tracy, before she married Les Fimrite and moved to the Bay Area in 1962 to become director of nursing at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward.
She was a native of Pennsylvania who had been an Army nurse in Europe during World War II.
I had never heard her say much about her wartime experiences while in Tracy, but the obit in the Chron told about her service in Europe that started by flying into Normandy three days after D-Day in June 1944.
Her best-remembered episode was taking part in the evacuation of 24 wounded soldiers in a glider towed by an airplane, a gamble that was originally scorned by higher-ups, but later recognized for saving lives.
Ginny left the Army Nurse Corps as a captain in 1946 and became a hospital administrator, coming to Tracy in 1954 at a time when the hospital was pulling itself out of financial problems encountered early in its history and making plans to expand facilities to serve a growing community.
Like Catherine McGowan, she made her mark at the hospital.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.