Reason to be proud

Fourth of July parade rolls through Kenai

The sidewalks were overflowing with proud Americans Monday to celebrate America. This year's Fourth of July parade offered a bonus to spectators that has been missing in recent years: Sunshine.


Ask any one of the hundreds of people in attendance about what the Fourth of July means to them. There will be many answers, but they all boil down to one thing. Independence.

Army Pvt. 2 Trenton Buning, of Soldotna, has been enlisted in active duty for about a year, ever since, he has felt different about the Fourth of July.

"I'm more patriotic, it changed my look on things, about freedom and all that," Buning, 21, said.

Buning participated in the parade representing the United States Army. When asked why, he responded, "To show freedom and what it stands for."

Daryl Vitzthum served in the Coast Guard for 20 years, the Fourth of July means everything to him and had some words of wisdom on how to enjoy the day of reflection.

"It's a time to celebrate the United States," he said. "Have fun, it's all about having fun."

There were numerous kids in the parade, but none looked to be having as much fun as the Soldotna Little League 11-12 All-Stars.

Asked what the Fourth of July meant to them, they answered in harmony, "Candy!"

After giving the question more though, Caleb Spence, 12, said the Fourth of July meant "victory" and he was proud to be an American. The All-Star team walked in the parade, Matthew Daugherty, 12, said being a part of the parade was a good way to represent the Soldotna Little League.

The Fourth of July is about spending time with family.

Jodi Moore has been living here for about six years, and has attended every parade she's been here for with her family.

"It's a celebration of independence for our country," she said. "Our family celebrates being Americans."

Moore said her children understand the reason behind the celebration, but only one thing was on her 8-year-old daughter Savannah's mind - candy.

Savannah went to the parade with her friend Mckenna Palmer, 9 , and both said they like the parades and spending time with family barbecuing, but her favorite part of the parade is the candy.

The Kenai Peninsula is a special place, where traditions hold strong.

"I've gone to all the parades since I was a little kid. My father was a family man and business owner here in town so I grew up going to the Fourth of July parades," Kenai resident Jim Bystedt said. "Now I'm happy I can do it with my kids."

Some families are not always together for the holiday. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jamey Rothmeier has been deployed six times during his 17 years in the Air Force said this is the first Fourth of July he's been state-side for in quite some time.

"Most of the time I've been deployed overseas," Rothmeier, 35 said. "It feels good to be able to celebrate Fourth of July on American soil."

Rothmeier was at the parade with his wife, Jamee.

Jamee said while her husband was away, she would still celebrate by barbecuing with family, and attending the parades. This year, their four kids rode horses in the parade.

Dan Oberg of Kenai said he spends time with his family on the Fourth of July. He also likes being able to see friends he hasn't seen for a while.

"I enjoy seeing friends that I don't see frequently," he said. "It's also good to see the young people in the parade in the school bands and that type of thing."

"I think all Americans should feel proud, I sure do."