We often talk about the small-town feel of Pleasant Hill. Politicians' stump speeches vow to preserve it.

Longtime residents bemoan it disappearing in the name of development.

No doubt the town has changed since Louie Mangini planted his first row of corn or Mama Molino rolled out her first ravioli, but if you want to see and experience the small-town feel of Pleasant Hill in all its glory, come to our Fourth of July Parade!

Enjoy floats, classic cars, local drill teams and school marching bands, cyclists and the return of the Bar-B-Que Dads.

And of course, elected officials and prominent citizens.

(My brother John will be driving me in his '66 Dodge Dart GT.

He has assured me that it is in good working order and that at no point during the parade will I be mistaken for the mythological character Sisyphus).

The theme this year is "Hats Off To America."

The July Fourth events are organized by the all-volunteer Pleasant Hill Fourth of July Commission.

In addition to the parade, the day's events include a 5k run, a festival at Pleasant Hill Park, and fireworks.

You can find out more about the parade and the daylong celebration at www.phjuly4.com.

The Pleasant Hill Civic Action Commission is working hard putting the finishing touches on its float for this year's parade.

Building off the theme of the day, the CAC float is titled 'Hats Off to Pleasant Hill Volunteers!'

I don't know whether we will be treated to a mobile giant Smoky the Bear hat like that of Pharrell Williams, or a group of individuals waving red, white and blue Uncle Sam hats, but the float is designed and built by members of the commission (and their friends and family) and will no doubt be overflowing with energy and fun.

The float pays tribute to the many thousands of Pleasant Hill residents who have volunteered and participated in our annual Community Service Day.

The event began in 2005, and this year is the 10th anniversary.

Community Service Day has grown from an event of a couple hundred volunteers and a handful of projects to well over a thousand volunteers and dozens of projects.

In addition to the parade float, the Civic Action Commission is planning to mark these 10 remarkable years of local volunteerism by staging a photographic exhibit and producing a video, with footage from previous years, to air on the city channel.

The photo exhibit will feature the images of volunteers at work during the previous nine Community Service Days and will be on display in the City Hall lobby during September.

The 10th annual Community Service Day is slated for Sept. 27.

Mark your calendar now.

The Civic Action Commission will be giving away free commemorative T-shirts, gardening gloves and other goodies to the first 600 volunteers who show up at Pleasant Hill Park on the morning of the event.

If you want to participate in this year's Community Service Day, you can sign up online at www.pleasant-hill.net/csd.

The Fourth of July festivities and Community Service Day in Pleasant Hill are just two of many community events held year-round.

The city and its commissions work collaboratively with the Chamber of Commerce and the Pleasant Hill Recreation & Park District to foster and promote the quality of life for our residents, our businesses and our visitors.

This is how we continue to preserve the small-town feel of Pleasant Hill.

In closing, I want to share a story from the July 4 parade last year.

I was honored to participate as your freshman City Councilman, and asked my then 4-year-old niece, Phoebe, and her parents to ride along with me.

I know how many kids, big and little, love parades and thought it would be a real treat.

As we began to move down Contra Costa Boulevard waving to the crowd, it was soon apparent Phoebe was not enjoying herself and acting uncharacteristically shy.

She was not smiling or waving to the crowd despite her mom's encouragement.

Finally, my sister Maria asked, "Phoebe, why aren't you smiling and waving to the people?"

Phoebe replied, "Mommy, why would I? I don't know these people."

I almost fell off the back of the car laughing.

Timothy M. Flaherty is the mayor of Pleasant Hill. Contact him at tflaherty@ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us.