While millions across America sweltered in near 100 degree temperatures with almost equal humidity this 4th of July, in Kenai it was a perfect cool cloudy 50 degrees for the traditional Independence Day Parade put on by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. The Parade theme this year was “America, Our Heritage & Hope,” a theme perfectly celebrated by Kenai’s Fist Family as Larry and Mayor Pat Porter welcomed their son U.S. Army Lt. Col. Larry Porter and his wife Rennie home for the holiday. “It was a perfect day and one our family will never forget because yesterday Larry Junior’s wife, who is from Italy became a U.S. Citizen,” said Mayor Porter.
Adding to the jubilation of America’s Birthday party in Kenai was a special home coming surprise for the Barlow family of Soldotna. The family of eight was all watching the parade except for their son U.S. Army Specialist Stephen Barlow who is stationed at Ft. Bragg, S.C. As they watched the Army entry in the parade pass by the grand stand their thoughts were obviously of Stephen, especially his wife Samantha who did a double take when Stephen’s brother U.S. Army Spec. Jacob Barlow, stationed at Ft. Rich, Alaska, led her husband from the parade for family hugs, “I was the only one that knew and I was jumping out of my skin with anticipation but not wanting to let on,” said Stephen’s mom Cindy, “Tomorrow July 5th is my husband’s birthday and this is the first time all eight of us have been together in a long time. Family reunion has to be the best 4th of July celebration you can have, especially with two sons in the Army,” said Cindy. “It was the coming home soldier that made this parade so special for all of us as it underscored the importance of Independence Day and families celebrating it with deep appreciation for those who fight to make it possible,” said Johna Beech, Kenai Chamber of Commerce executive director.
When the judges score sheets were tallied the winner of the best overall parade entry went to Peak Oilfield Services and their float that featured a character dressed as George Washington.
The best commercial entry was the three trucks entered by Weaver Bros. that included the restored original 1968 Kenworth Tractor Trailer driven by Jim Doyle of Kenai, “It has only about 450,000 miles on it and I say 350,000 of those I put on myself. I don’t let anyone else drive it,” said Doyle. The 4-H float was the best youth entry and Carrol and JoAnne Martin the best individual entry. The Kenai Senior Center took the best organization category as they flagged the importance of Heritage, Privacy & Justice on Independence Day. Peninsula Spay & Neuter won the best animal entry with their jumping chain steering wheeled Pon-Pon. The Kaknu Kruzers took the best auto entry and Hilcorp the best oilfield entry. The light drizzle let up about just before the parade and following along the Green Strip Park there was live music by Troubadour North, a performance by Julius the “Yoyo Guy, a Kids Carnival and a variety of vendors that kept the celebration going through out the Kenai afternoon. Grand Marshals for this year’s parade were Joe and June Harris who were escorted in the parade by KPC Director Gary Turner and his award winning restored Dodge Power Wagon.
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