ALAMEDA -- The annual Mayor's Fourth of July Parade could be one for the record books, with more than 180 entries and as many as 55,000 spectators anticipated.

In addition, 3,000 individuals and animals will participate in the popular event.

"The Wells Fargo stagecoach is back this year, which is pretty exciting," said event chair Barbara Price. "There's a large horse population in the parade, too."

Bay Area native Michael Finney, a longtime consumer reporter with ABC7 News and also KGO-AM 810, will be the grand marshal. Finney, a former Alameda resident, said he has close ties to the Island.

Over 500 runners participate in the Alameda Mayor’s July 4th Parade Race followed by the parade on Park Street in Alameda, Calif., on Thursday, July
Over 500 runners participate in the Alameda Mayor's July 4th Parade Race followed by the parade on Park Street in Alameda, Calif., on Thursday, July 4, 2013. The 5K race ended at Haight and Webster streets and all the funds will go to the Midway Shelter of Alameda for abused and homeless woman and children. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

"I have been to the Mayor's Fourth of July Parade many times with my brother and his family. I think the world of Alameda and was honored that Mayor Marie Gilmore asked me to take on this role," Finney said.

The popular newsman said the event "is a great opportunity to celebrate the best of the country we live in, the best of Alameda and the best of the Bay Area. What I love is that it's a classic Independence Day parade."

Finney added that he has been to dozens of parades over the span of his career.

"The City of Alameda nails it every single year with the Fourth of July Parade. There's something for everybody," he said.

The 3.3-mile parade route begins at Park Street and Lincoln Avenue, moves up Park to Otis Drive and then heads west. Participants will follow the route from Otis to Grand, Central and Webster avenues. The parade ends at the corner of Webster and Lincoln.

Participants include a wide range of community and cultural groups, business organizations and more. There also will be plenty of VIPs and others in classic cars, along with groups on bikes, tricycles, stilts and other forms of transportation.

Marching bands and equestrian groups are always a highlight, organizers say. Last year, the Mayor's Trophy went to the Otaez-El Agavero Charro Association of horseback riders.

For those looking to do more than spectating along the route, a 5-kilometer race and walk will take place beginning at 9:45 a.m. July 4 at the corner of Park and Santa Clara Ave. It ends at Webster and Haight, in front of the judge's stand.

As the parade's official leader, "I do not take this role lightly," Finney said. "Fortunately, Mayor Gilmore, city staff, the parade committee and others all know what they are doing, and the parade is very well organized."

It also gives the newsman the chance to see people he knows on the Island and enjoy the holiday.

"This is my first time as a parade marshal," he said. "Once again, I am very honored and happy to be a part of such a special event."

FYI
What: Mayor's Fourth of July Parade
When: 10 a.m. Friday, July 4
Where: Begins at Park Street and Lincoln Avenue and ends at Webster Street and Lincoln
Information: www.alamedaparade.com and for details on the race, see www.alamedarace.com.