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In the 10 years that Frank Malifrando has been in charge of the Waterfront Fourth of July Celebration, he has seen the crowd grow from about 400 people to about 8,000 last year.

But what Malifrando is most proud of is the knowledge that he “has something for all of them.”

This year’s edition of the annual event features live music, food vendors and cultural performances, as well as giant kites from the Kiteman of Martinez, a maritime dog parade and a craft beer garden. The festivities last until nightfall, giving visitors the perfect vantage point for the drone show on Mare Island.

Although Vallejo is currently experiencing a heat wave with temperatures around 35 degrees, Malifrando is still expecting a lot of people.

“The same goes for the Mad Hatter Christmas Festival. We always deal with rain there, and this one always seems to be the start of a heat wave,” said Malifrando. “But like the Christmas event, we have our diehard fans who come no matter what. If this were any other weekend, they might stay home. But since this is the Fourth of July, people will come in droves for a few hours and enjoy a wonderful, diverse day of entertainment.”

Malifrando said the event will feature about 100 vendors, including popular vendors from past events.

A line of vintage cars transports dignitaries down Georgia Street during the Mad Hatter Parade on Saturday. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
A line of vintage cars carries dignitaries down Georgia Street during the 2019 Mad Hatter Parade. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald file)

“We have Mexican food, Greek food, Filipino food, anything you could want,” Malifrando said. “We also have a lot of candy. We have a vendor who sells an ice cream cone. Every year there seems to be a long line there, from opening until late at night. Last year I had to try one myself to see what all the fuss was about.”

“It was really good,” laughs Malifrando. “It was like a 2.3 kg waffle covered in ice cream.”

There was a shaded area where people could escape the heat, where they could watch live bands that day starting at 3:00 p.m. There will also be mariachi bands and cultural performances, including folkloric ballet.

“We’re full of people,” said Malifrando. “The people who come to the festival make it even fuller.”

With so many people coming to the festival and so many attractions, it can be overwhelming. Not so at Malifrando.

“No, we’ve been doing this for a long time, over a decade,” Malifrando said. “I think after doing this for over a decade, we’ve got it down. We’ve been ready and prepared for over a month now. Now we’re just fine-tuning.”

The festival takes place in Vallejo about an hour after the 10 a.m. parade. The “Deep Roots and High Hopes” parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Tennessee and Broadway. From there, the procession of floats, horses, cars, performers and puppets moves west to Sonoma Boulevard, south on Sonoma, west on Georgia Street and through downtown Vallejo.