When it comes to celebrations, Santee knows how to do it right, especially on the Fourth of July. Last Saturday was the annual Santee Salutes July 4th Celebration, held at the Town Center Ball Fields next to Rio Seco School on Cuyamaca St. The fun kicked off at 3:30 pm and continued until the fireworks ended well after 9:00 pm, and included rides, games, food, and music. Santee’s adopted USMC unit from Miramar, HMH 462, the Heavy Haulers, provided the Color Guard for the ceremonies; Lt. Colonel Ronnie Carson, commanding officer of HMH 462, was the keynote speaker, guest of honor, and honorary mayor for the day.
A big “Thank You” goes out not only to the City of Santee, but also to the event’s major sponsors, Waste Management and RCP Block and Brick. In addition to these companies, several local businesses helped out, setting up booths or selling food in conjunction with community groups. This was truly a community event, at all levels.
Before the main ceremonies, the crowd was entertained by a group calling itself “Bootylicious,” playing music of the 70s. What was probably the highlight of their performance was a rollicking rendition of YMCA. Interestingly, aside from their afros, platforms, and 70s outfits, they bore a striking resemblance to the musical headliners, 80z All Stars (insert nod and wink here).
Mayor Randy Voepel began the opening ceremonies and introduced the guests, including Lt. Col. Carson, Councilmember Brian Jones, Miss Santee, Miss Santee Teen, Miss Santee Runners-Up and Princesses, and special singers. After the presentation of the colors, eight-year-old Natalie Sako sang the National Anthem, followed by Brittany Siler and Madeline Cepeda singing “America the Beautiful.” Even though she is only eight, Natalie has a voice that could easily come out of someone three times her age. Brittany and Madeline performed a great harmony duet, although they did have a tough spot, following Natalie. After the songs, Lt. Col. Carson spoke, followed again by Mayor Voepel, and finally Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke, gave a rundown of the activities for the day.
(L-R) Brian Jones, Lt. Col. Ronnie Carson, Mayor Randy Voepel, Sierra Billock, Nicole Ehlke, Miss Santee Runners-Up and Princesses, and Brittany Siler and Madeline Cepeda listen as Natalie Sako sings the National Anthem
Madeline Cepeda and Brittany Siler perform “America the Beautiful”
(L-R) Santee Princess Miranda, Miss Santee – Sierra Billock, Miss Santee Teen – Nicole Ehlke, Santee Princesses Madison and Michelle, Miss Santee Runner-Up – Monique Edmond, Miss Congeniality – Rhawnie Kelsch, Miss Santee Teen Runner-Up – Taylor Shelton
Following the ceremonies, the 80z All Stars took the stage to entertain until 9:00 pm. This high-energy group is always a hit at Santee events, including this year’s Street Fair and the Santee Summer Concert Series. Featuring lead singer Nigel Naughty, guitarist Motley Who, bassist Devo 2.0, and drummer Karate Kid, the group kept people hopping and dancing all through the evening.
As with any good July 4th celebration, the night ended with a literal bang as fireworks lit up the sky and patriotic music filled the air. The approximately 20-minute show seemed to satisfy everyone, eliciting multiple “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd.
Finally, I want to commend the people of Santee for their great behavior during and after the celebration. On KUSI News the following morning a reporter joined a Boy Scout troop in Mira Mesa as they picked up dozens of bags of trash left after the July 4th celebration there. As I left the Santee event I saw very little trash lying around – just another example of the small-town neighbor attitude in our community. Way to go, Santee
I will have more pictures up soon.