While the rest of the nation suffered sweltering heat waves, floods, power outages and record storms, parade goers on the Kenai Peninsula were bringing parkas and blankets to bundle to up with. Weather coupled with the 4th of July falling in the middle of the week this year caused many to wonder how many would turn out for this year’s Independence Day Parade in Kenai. “We’re an All America City our spirit runs deep and we aren’t deterred by weather when we come out to celebrate our nations Independence Day and respect for those who stand up for our freedoms. Freedom never has been free and we’re all about keeping freedom in our country and that’s what we are celebrating today along with all those who have sons and daughters in service to America,” commented Kenai Mayor Pat Porter following the parade.
As the parade stopped in front of the judges grand stand and Veteran’s groups presented the colors, 17 year old Ciara Farrow of Nikiski stood up to the microphone and belted out the strains of the Star Spangled Banner acapella. “That was amazing, her voice put a lump in my throat and chills up my back that wasn’t from the weather,” commented a visitor. Some eyes turned from the flag as Farrow sang of the rockets red glare and glanced back to the grandstand to see just where the brilliant voice was coming from, “It’s an honor and a privilege to be asked to sing the National Anthem and to sing it for this town and this community that I have come to love so much was a great experience and a lifetime memory for me as I will be leaving Alaska tomorrow to move back with my family to Oklahoma,” Ciara told the Dispatch in an interview. Farrow has only lived in Nikiski since last September and this was her first 4th of July in Kenai, “My mom says I’ve been singing since I could talk and that actually I’d walk around singing before I would talk,” laughed Ciara who said she will be auditioning for American Idol at the end of this summer.
According to Johna Beech, executive director for the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center there were 67 parade entries this year and 32 midway vendors. Selected as the overall best entry this year was the Broussard family entry entitled “Celebrating America” featuring a replica of Lady Liberty and a re-enactment of the flag raising at Iwo Jima from WWII as the float made its way along the Kenai Spur Highway. The Totally Tan float brought hopes for warmer temperatures and tropical type tans and was selected as the winner of the Commercial category. The Kenai Peninsula 4-H entry was judged best in the Youth/School category and Ken Campbell won 1st Place for the best Individual entry. New to the 4th of July Parade this year was the Peninsula Spay & Neuter Fund and they won the Organization category while the “Alota Fun in the Sun/Alaska Riding” entry won the Animals category and Dan and Ann Krogseng had the best automobile entry. Hayrides were given through the day by Diamond M Ranch and entertainment on the park strip was by Troubadour North.