Rancho Cordova's largest annual celebration is the Rancho Cordova Fourth of July when volunteers absolutely transform Hagan Park into our own patriotic wonderland.
For those of us who actually work on this project, we don't think of it as a party as much as a major miracle.
Think about it. One day you are meandering through Hagan Park alone with your dog and a couple of days later you are there with thousands of people enjoying carnival rides, fireworks, great food and all kinds of things. A couple days later it disappears just as fast. How do we do it?
We do it with a lot of imagination and hard workers like Wayne Harmer, that's how.
Now, for those of you who know Wayne, none of what I am going to say will surprise you. For the rest of you, trust me, it's true.
Wayne Harmer came to the Rancho Cordova Fourth of July Committee a few years ago asking to help because, as he put it, "the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday."
Now Wayne is a really patriotic guy. For 20 years he served as a crew chief on a KC-135 tanker aircraft for the air force, and anybody who knows anything about the air force knows that's a big job.
After that, Wayne became one of the most famous mail carriers in Rancho Cordova history becoming friends with everybody on his route. Wayne delivered mail the same way the air force delivers its payload: with a vengeance.
So when Wayne showed up to say he was devoting his entire vacation to helping set up the Fourth of July we thought it was a little bit of overkill, but really great help.
What we did not know was that Wayne would become our most valuable Fourth of July volunteer, working behind the scenes to help produce power, power up generators and snap fencing into place.
He would plan his own personal vacation time each year to be the week before the Fourth of July so he could work long, uninterrupted hours on the celebration.
That was Wayne up on a man-lift hanging signage, moving cones and traffic barriers, tables and chairs, driving a water truck to keep down the dust, and popping up tents to shield from the sun.
Really and truly, we could not have done it without him. And all he asked in return was to be part of the team and be provided with an unlimited supply of Coca-Cola, which he consumes by the gallon.
But if that wasn't enough, the day of the big Fourth of July parade dawns, and there is Wayne, totally dressed out as Benjamin Franklin, riding aboard the most ingenious parade float we have ever seen.
There was Abe Lincoln's cabin with smoke coming out of the chimney. Betsy Ross was sewing her flag. In fact the whole family was on board as a great American character. The darn thing even had a functioning water fountain!
While we were not looking, Wayne was building his float of all floats, and there it was, starring in the Fourth of July parade.
Like most great volunteers, Wayne has jumped onto other event teams in Rancho Cordova. He was in charge of traffic control for Celebration of Faith and ran the Ferris Wheel at the Christmas Tree Lighting. Of course, that was after a long weekend of putting up a 30-foot Christmas tree, stringing electrical service and more. It was Wayne who built our Rube Goldberg flying machine that was featured on our California State Fair Parade float in which we promoted the upcoming Air Show.
Oh yeah, he was voted "most outstanding team member"
by his teammates there for his ability to make everybody buy an Air Show program.
Wayne, we have no idea where you find the energy to do these things, but we suspect it is part deep love of country matched up with deep love of Rancho Cordova.
Whatever it is, we are lucky to have you. Nobody is more deserving thatn you to bear the title: All American Fourth of July Volunteer.