Some 70 entries will make up the 5th Annual Folsom Hometown Parade this Saturday at 9:30 am

By now, we’ve all heard the story about how longtime Folsom High School Music Director Curtis Gaesser was retiring. Folsom isn’t letting the longtime educator out of the local spotlight just yet as he has been named the Grand Marshal of Saturday’s 5th Annual Hometown Parade. 


“This year the Hometown Parade committee is honoring Curtis as the Parade Grand Marshal. Curtis is best known for his many years at Folsom High School’s critically acclaimed music teacher,” said Judy Collinsworth. “He has made a marvelous impact on hundreds and hundreds of students throughout his tenure. we are thrilled to have him as our Hometown Parade Grand Marshal.”

Gaesser, 61, grew up in Hawaii where his interest in music began by learning to play the ukulele. He was such a natural talent that his sixth-grade teacher asked him to teach the music class to the others instead and music has been a part of his life ever since.


He later took up the saxophone and his family moved to El Dorado Hills as began attending Ponderosa High School. Following high school, Gaesser remained local, attending Sacramento State University. 

Gaesser’s first role as an instructor with the Folsom Cordova Unified School District (FCUSD) came at Cordova High School in 1984 and he came to Folsom High School three years later where he has been ever since. 


His hard work philosophy has been passed on to thousands of talented students through the years, even in times when things like Snap Chat, TikTok and other forms of socializing can become distracting. His students, appreciate his strong leadership, which he says starts with respect.


“I have always given my students respect first,” said Gaesser in a previous interview with Folsom Times. “I have had to earn their respect, too. You really have to humble yourself to be an effective leader.”

During his career, Gaesser watched Folsom’s music program win countless awards, not only locally but regionally as well as nationally and has claimed many awards himself, including the John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year award, a national award recognizing a school educator with a focus on jazz education he was presented with in January 2023.  He was also nominated for a Grammy as the Educator of the Year in 2018 and was recently named the Educator of the Decade by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce.


Now that he has retired from Folsom High School, Gaesser is stil very much involved in the community when it comes to music.  Teaming up with Gaw Van Williams, who has now taken over his role at FCUSD the duo has founded the Live Performing Arts Academy (LPAA.)

The Live Performing Arts Academy is a non-profit organization with the mission to provide live performing arts education, opportunities, and experience for all students.  The organization remains close to Historic Folsom, presenting the recent California Jazz Championships that brought some 40 jazz bands from 20 different schools to the district and even more signed up for next year.

As Gaesser rolls down Sutter Street Saturday, he will be amidst what is expected to be a spirited event in a parade that Collinsworth says has all your local favorites, “plus some new great surprises.” 

“There will be lots of live music, some fun Folsom themed entries and lots of fun for the entire family,” said Collinsworth. “The rodeo queens, mutton busters and local bands and more will be in the parade which will begin with a flyover.”

Collinsworth noted that the local Harmon Family, who has won several Hometown Parade awards already, is set to make a grand return. “They are entering what they are calling their swan song float, named “The Hari,” which is themed after the Greatest Showman,” she said.

Saturday’s parade travels down Sutter Street starting at Scott Street to Reading Street beginning at 9:30 a.m. and an early arrival to the Historic District is suggested, but there is plenty to do long before the parade starts. 

The fun begins as early as 8 am when visitors can enjoy a pancake breakfast taking place at the Eagles Lodge on Scott Street for a mere $6 donation.

After breakfast, make your way down and find a spot along Sutter Street to prepare for the parade. The event will feature 70 entries this year and will fill Sutter Street with plenty of red white and blue until the 11 a.m. hour. For more information visit

Hometown Radio Show concert kicks off the fun Friday night

If you want to get into Folsom a day early and stay the night locally, the Folsom Historic District kicks off the patriotic weekend with a special concert in the Zittel Family Amphitheater with a collection of true talent performing on stage.

It’s the 2nd annual Hometown Country Radio Show, a free celebration of country music, which began as an experiment last year, proved so popular that local impresario Billy J. Walsh is bringing an updated rendition to the amphitheater behind Scott’s Seafood in Folsom’s historic district on Friday, at 7:30 p.m. 

“It is a Grand Ole Opry-style show at the Zittel Family Amphitheater to celebrate the history of country music,” said Walsh, a Folsom resident who performs with his bands the Sky Kings and Rangers and works as a sound technician during the summer concert series at the amphitheater. “This is a multi-artist show featuring some of the best country musicians on the west coast.”

The stage will be shared by 16 musicians, including Walsh; locally-based Nashville recording artists Cynthia Renee and Michael Gregory; Aaron Gayden, who leads the annual Hometown Parade singing “America the Beautiful”; Michael Curtis, Jr.; Flying Eugene Flowers; Rich Gularte; Kevin Jachetta; Barbara Johnson; Giorgi Khokhobashvili; Danielle Walsh Mata; Sunny Mitchell; Jerry Verseput; John Voelz; Mark Wheeler; and Ian Worley. Folsom’s Ian Cornell will serve as guest emcee.  

The event is free and family friendly. Walsh said guests are encouraged to arrive early, set-up low-back lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy dinner in the historic district before the show.

Parking is free in the Historic District Parking Garage at 905 Leidesdorff Street, which is right next to the concert venue for a dance across the walkway to grab your seat for some great entertainment. 

Above photo: Curtis Gaesser picture during the 2023 Folsom High School Wine and Jazz fundraiser. Photo by: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.