PIEDMONT -- This city of 11,000 residents salutes Uncle Sam in spirited fashion with its decades-old tradition of a grand-slam parade down Highland Avenue.

This year's theme is "Small Town, Big Heart."

"That (theme) just about sums it up," said City Councilman Garrett Keating.

"Our small-town character is maintained by the many volunteers who make the fun things happen in town, and the parade is the perfect example of that."

Residents set down chairs on the curb hours before the parade to snag a prime viewing spot for grandma and toddlers alike. Red, white and blue will be the order of the day with sparkly T-shirts and hats, babies dressed in holiday outfits and dogs sporting patriotic bandannas.

Neighborhoods get together to create floats or bicycle brigades, and city leaders wave to the crowd from shiny vintage cars. They will include new police Chief Rikki Goede, Mayor John Chiang, Vice Mayor Margaret Fujioka, and Councilmen Jeff Wieler and Bob McBain. Sarah Pearson and Andrea Swenson will represent their school board. New Piedmont High principal Brent Daniels will join the lineup along with new Piedmont Middle School Principal Ryan Fletcher. Beloved icon Uncle Sam will be played by Bruce Wolfe.

Local and regional groups will join the parade march providing "something for everyone." For the sports fans, the Oakland Women's Rowing Club, Oakland Raiderettes, Piedmont Baseball/Softball Foundation, PITS rugby and Skyline Lacrosse will strut their stuff. Dog lovers will enjoy a parade of adorable Westie and Scottie dogs all dressed in patriotic colors led proudly down the street by their owners.

The notorious Balloon Platoon always draws a laugh from the hundreds gathered at the curbs as does the Cub Scout kazoo band. Highlighting Piedmont's Scottish tradition from its founding fathers, the Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums, Piedmont Highlanders Drums and Pipes and Piedmont Youth Bagpipe bands will play. The Zenith New Orleans parade band, Bandworks School of Rock and the Barrelhouse Jazz Band will also entertain.

The Oakland Zoo, East Bay SPCA, Children's Fairyland Theater, Critters by the Bay and California Pinto Rangers will add to the fun. This year's Grand Marshal is Brooke Zimmerman, the retired longtime counselor/administrator for Piedmont schools and director of the Wellness Center.

The celebrating continues after the parade at Piedmont Park, where the band "Pride and Joy" will perform a free concert; family picnicking is encouraged. The Boy Scouts will sell hamburgers and refreshments or you can bring your own picnic fixings.

IF YOU GO
What: Piedmont Fourth of July parade
When: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Highland Avenue and Park Way
Cost: Free