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Thousands turn out to July 4th celebration at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center

Henry Friedman traveled an hour to celebrate the nation’s birthday Thursday at the Green Music Center. He had a good reason for doing so, too.

“We live in San Francisco. We didn’t want to sit in the fog,” said Friedman, holding a glass of white wine while relaxing in a portable lounge chair on the lawn of the music venue on a mild 74-degree sunny day. “We drove 50 miles to get to some sun.”

About 4,500 people turned out for the sold-out 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular at the center, located at the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park. Now in its seventh year, the event has quickly become an annual tradition for many families who appreciate the wide variety of activities provided in a comfortable atmosphere.

For children, there was a kids’ zone with bounce houses, inflatable slides and face painting. The venue also was a picnickers’ paradise, as the center permitted visitors to bring in their own picnic lunches. Some Igloo coolers were packed to the hilt, while others opted for premade meals from San Francisco’s legendary Boudin Bakery. Vendors also had local wine and craft beer for sale.

The Santa Rosa Symphony provided the musical entertainment for the evening, and they were joined by the Transcendence Theatre Co. for show tunes and patriotic classics. The biggest display of fireworks in Sonoma County was scheduled to kick off later that night at 9:40 p.m.

“I think it’s the whole mix. There is the kids’ zone. There’s a concert. You can bring a picnic. There are fireworks. It adds up for one stop for the day,” said Jacob Yarrow, executive director for the Green Music Center.

Hannah Momeyer said she enjoyed the wide variety of activities at the event.

“It’s awesome. I feel like there is so many things to do, and it’s very family oriented. There is something for everyone,” said Momeyer, a Sacramento native and SSU student studying child development.

Adam and Nicole Fair watched their 3-year-old son, Lincoln, repeatedly go down the inflatable slide at the kids’ zone as they slowly sipped their beers. They also attended the event last year.

“It’s all inclusive with the kids and the fireworks,” Adam Fair said, adding, “We really liked the Transcendence group; we’ve seen them at other places.”

This year, they decided to arrive early to get a better spot on the lawn. The family was there when the gates opened at 4:30 p.m., giving their son more time to play at the kids’ zone.

“I like the venue better than the fairgrounds,” Nicole Fair said. “It’s just a nice, comfortable, safe venue.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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