July 4th - Independence Day Celebrations Through the Decades

 4th of July Queen Sue Hansen Rubey and her court, 1947. Coordinating Council Queen campaigns raised large sums for youth rec over the decades.

For decades, Solvang has been a 4th of July destination with abundant small-town Americana charm combined with its Danish cultural roots. A 1947 Santa Ynez Valley News article declared, “The wheels were set in motion Monday night by a committee appointed by the Valley Coordinating Council to stage a mammoth Fourth of July celebration in the valley.” Festivities that year kicked-off Friday July 3rd at the Veteran’s Memorial Building with a dance and crowning of the 4th of July Queen followed by a parade on the 4th and a community picnic lunch at Nojoqui Falls Park.

Solvang's Volunteer Fire Department in the 1952 parade.

Although there is no longer a queen contest and coronation dance, the annual parade is a treasured tradition with crowds lining the streets to cheer on participants. The parade has grown over the years, from nineteen floats made up mostly of “burros, horses and bands” in 1947 to approximately 70 entries in 2019 representing local enterprises, youth and non-profit organizations, traveling dance & music troupes, and various performing equestrian groups.

American Independence Day Celebration at Rebild National Park in Denmark

Interestingly, Denmark is the only country outside of the Unites States that celebrates America’s Independence Day. Rebildfesten, as it’s known, dates back to 1912 and takes place at the Rebild National Park in northern Jutland. The celebration is founded on our countries' shared values of democracy and freedom. Solvang typically has numerous residents attending the Rebild celebration, and several have been keynote speakers or received honors. Bonds between Denmark and Solvang remain strong today, which Elverhøj is committed to maintaining through diplomatic relations and cultural exchange.

Parade participants and spectators come from near and far. Pictured is Lompoc's Garcia Dance Studio troupe in the 2019 parade.
Photo courtesy of Noozhawk.com

In 1995 the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary assumed the role of host organization for 4th of July festivities and raised money for the addition of a fireworks show. The event now draws thousands of spectators to Solvang every year, making it one of town's busiest tourism holidays.

With the cancellation of all public events this year due to COVID-19, it is interesting to note that this isn’t the first time a virus has interrupted July 4th activities. In 1954, a severe polio outbreak caused the celebration to be postponed to Labor Day weekend in an effort to halt the spread of the deadly virus. Thankfully, the polio vaccine was released the following April.

We wish everyone a safe holiday and we look forward to a “mammoth” 4th of July celebration in 2021!

All our best,
The Elverhøj Team

Want to learn more about the history of Solvang?
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ELVERHØJ MUSEUM of History and Art

1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463


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