Murfey Co. bringing back ‘force’-ful Bird Rock Fourth of July Parade

The Murfey family and friends attend a past Fourth of July Parade in Bird Rock.
(Courtesy of Russ Murfey)

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“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … it was a dark time for the rebel neighborhood. Although the death star virus had been destroyed, the people had not been able to celebrate the independence of their beloved rebel nation in the way they were accustomed. Over a year later, the people have left their bases and are taking to the streets for well-deserved fun, parade and party. The 4th is strong in these ones, and they will celebrate freedom once again.”

So read the shirts that volunteers will wear at the 42nd annual Bird Rock Fourth of July Parade, themed “May the Fourth of July Be With You.” The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 4, along Beaumont Avenue. It was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19-related restrictions on gatherings.

The event will be slightly modified, organizers said, but will still aim to create the community joy of past years.

“We’re excited to have a reopening and opportunity to celebrate coming out of this stressful year and a half. But we’ve eliminated some things that would put people in close quarters, like kids [bounce houses]. And in the past, there was food and hot dogs donated by the community … but we’ve eliminated that, so no donated food,” said organizer Russ Murfey of the Murfey Co. construction firm. “We are encouraging social distancing and will have increased hand-washing stations. Luckily, the entire event is outside, which is a safe spot to be.”

Murfey and his brother Scott have run the parade for six years and have attended since they were children.

“The parade is always important to us, it has a special spot for us from our childhood and through our lives. Now that we have children, we get to pass along that celebration,” Russ Murfey said. “As far as this year goes, this is the opportunity to see a lot of people we haven’t seen in a long time.”

Planning for this year’s parade started in April, around the time the state announced its intention to fully reopen the economy and lift its COVID-19-related tier system on June 15.

“We were holding off for that information; that was a major driver in the decision,” Murfey said. “Thankfully, we have the city permit process dialed in [from past parades] and it was just a matter of getting our ducks in a row. It’s part and parcel with our everyday work. The parade ends up being a mini-project we enjoy working on.”

When it came to choosing a theme, organizers were looking for something in pop culture that “the kids would like,” Murfey said.

Resident Josh Oliver, who Murfey said “usually makes one of the best floats and goes all out,” came up with “May the Fourth of July Be With You,” a nod to the “Star Wars” phrase “May the force be with you.”

Murfey said the theme had extra significance for him and his wife, Maureen. “My son was born on May 4 (culturally known as Star Wars Day), so having a theme for him, I think, is hilarious.”

Maureen came up with the shirt design, and the theme was set. So get ready for floats adorned with droids, Death Stars and maybe Darth Vader.

“Our hope is that people go all out with the floats,” Murfey said. “The floats are what make the parade unique. Some floats can barely roll and some are built like a Sherman tank. Some people decorate a wagon the morning of, others plan it for weeks. It’s all about having fun, getting creative and getting the kids involved. We want to create some memories with something fun and unique.”

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