Independence Day Board

Meeting Dates and Times
The board meets monthly on the 1st Wednesday at 6:00 pm year-round, with two meetings in May and weekly or as-needed meetings in June. The meetings are held in B-8 on the Lower Level of the Civic Center, 2000 Main Street.

Purpose: Municipal Code Chapter 2.106

There is hereby established a Independence Day (formerly known as Fourth of July Executive Board) which shall be an advisory body to the City Council, implementing policy as set by the City Council, and shall work with staff and volunteers to assist in coordinating the City’s annual Fourth of July parade and celebration. 

Independence Day Board is responsible for the fundraising, coordination and presentation of the City's annual Fourth of July Celebration, including a parade, fireworks, 5K run, and related entertainment.

Fourth of July Executive Board Bylaws

HistoryThe 4th of July Independence Day Celebration has a long and colorful history. Today, it remains the city's longest held community tradition.

The celebration first began in Huntington Beach on July 4, 1904, to commemorate the arrival of the first electric passenger train, linking the still unincorporated area with Long Beach and Los Angeles. The Board of Trade, a business association and forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce sponsored this first event, which was attended by an estimated 50,000, many of which were enticed here by the efforts of real estate promoters. The initial celebration activities included fireworks, barbeques, speeches and games.

Various groups managed the event in the initial years, most notably the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion. It included a range of activities over the years such as tug-of wars, beauty contests, patriotic speeches, footraces, confetti battles, music, dancing, carnivals, airshows, penny scrambles, pie-eating contests, vaudeville acts, horse races and jalopy races. Perhaps the most dramatic of spectacles featured the city's first lifeguard and fire chief Dilbert Bud Higgins. In the late 1930's Higgins would don a firesuit, cover his face with petroleum jelly, soak himself with alcohol, light a match and dive in a fiery ball from a 50-foot platform high above the pier into the water below. This yearly stunt would thrill the crowd for years.

A prominent member of the community and head of the Chamber of Commerce, Bill Gallienne aka "Generalissimo" is credited with almost single-handedly keeping the celebration going through the 1930's, 40's, and 50's. His spirit is remembered today though the annual Bill Gallienne Award, given to a volunteer who has donated time and energy to the event.

During the years of 1943-46 no celebrations were held because of war. From that point on the parade and celebration has continued to be held in Huntington Beach each year. Some of the notable grand marshals have included movie stars such as Victor Mclaglen, Jane Mansfield, Natalie Wood, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Wagner, Mickey Rooney, and Dorothy Lamour as well as other celebrities including George Putnam, Buzz Aldrin, Johnny Grant, and Lou Rawls.

In the early 1970's, the parade began to be operated by the city Public Information Office, along with a five-member Special Events Board, which formed to plan the 1976 bicentennial parade. That year, the parade gained national attention when it was selected as the official bicentennial parade for the State of California. In 1979 the Board became the 4th of July Executive Board, with individual members appointed by the City Council. To this day, the Board has been charged with overseeing all aspects of the event including planning and fundraising.

In 2004, the City celebrated the 100th anniversary of the celebration by bringing fireworks back to beach, where they had not been held since the 1970's.

The board shall consist of nine to fifteen members, appointed by City Council upon the recommendation of the Council Liaisons to the board.

In the event a member retires or is unable to complete his/her term, an appointment shall be made to fill the remainder of the unexpired term. To apply to become a member, please fill out the Boards & Commission Application.

Council Liaisons
Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark
Council Member Casey McKeon
Board Members
Paul Simonds
Appointed 5/3/2022
Term Expires 9/30/2025
Shannon Smith
Appointed 5/3/2022
Term Expires 9/30/2025
Allison Stevens
Appointed 5/3/2022
Term Expires 9/30/2025
Floreal Toboada
Appointed 5/3/2022
Term Expires 9/30/2025
Ryan Van Tuyl
Appointed 5/3/2022
Term Expires 9/30/2025
Staff Liaison
Molly Uemura
[email protected]

Agendas and MinutesCurrent Agendas & Minutes (2019- Present)

Archived Agendas & Minutes (2007-2018)