FREMONT — Sunday's Fourth of July parade in the Mission San Jose district could be the city's last, as fundraising efforts continue to lag.
Organizers already have had to scale back this year's celebration, cutting costs by eliminating the post parade party and limiting themselves to just two giant helium balloons.
But the parade is still about $13,000 in the red. And, even if last-minute donations can eliminate that deficit, organizers still need a nest egg to carry over for next year's parade, scheduled for the Irvington district.
"If we have to spend every dime of what we raise to pay for this year's parade, I don't see it happening next year," parade organizer Patty Hitchcock said.
Money woes periodically have threatened the Independence Day parades since the tradition started 11 years ago. Fremont's 2003 budget crisis forced the city to stop paying for the parade and to turn it over to volunteers, who have raised private funds and rotated the event among Fremont's six districts.
But in recent years, donations have been slow to materialize, and organizers have relied on last-second contributions to meet expenses.
Hitchcock didn't expect fundraising problems this year with the parade returning to the well-heeled Mission San Jose district for the first time since 2004. The last time it was held in the Mission, organizers ended up with a $20,000 surplus that helped pay for future parades, Hitchcock said.
But this year, organizers have raised just $14,000, more than half of which came from developer Mark Robson. Money carried over from last year puts the tally close to $30,000.
"I don't know why people don't want to come to bat for it," Hitchcock said. "It breaks my heart because I've been with the parade since it started."
Hitchcock would like to see the parade moved to a permanent location near Central Park, with all of the city's districts helping to support it every year.
This year's parade will cost about $41,000 — far less than the $56,000 parade last year in the Warm Springs district.
To save about $3,000 on helium, the giant birthday cake and Lady Liberty balloons will be filled with oxygen and transported on carts, Hitchcock said. Also parade entry winners will receive certificates instead of plaques, and there won't be any Raiderettes or airplane flyovers this year.
"We've tried to keep it more feasible and realistic this year," Hitchcock said.
But much of the event will look familiar to parade fans.
There will be more than 70 entries, and about 10 floats, including a 50-foot pirate ship from the Pirates of Emerson.
There also will be several marching bands, including the Renegades Drum and Bugle Corps, the Spirit of Sunnyvale, and bands from American and Mission San Jose high schools.
This year's grand marshal is KGO television personality Spencer Christian.
"I think it's going to be a great, positive event," said parade co-chair Connie Andrade.
The parade is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Participants will march in a three square block rectangle, starting at the corner of Pine Street and Mission Boulevard, heading north on Mission, turning left on Washington Boulevard, left on Ellsworth Street and then left on Pine.
Streets will be closed about an hour before the start of the parade, and reopen shortly after the parade ends, about 11:30 a.m.
If the parade deficit has not been closed by July 4, organizers will have to continue raising money throughout the summer to pay vendors, Hitchcock said.
To contribute to the parade, visit www.fremont4th.org, or send a check made out to Fremont Fourth of July Parade to P.O. Box 1372, Fremont, CA 94538.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-353-7002. For more Fremont news, read his blog: www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.