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'America: Land of the Free' parade draws hundreds to Kenai (+ Video)

Posted: July 5, 2012 - 8:20am  |  Updated: July 5, 2012 - 11:51am
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M. Scott Moon
The Broussard family’s float, titled “Celebrating America,” makes its way down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai on Wednesday during the Fourth of July parade. The float featured a re-enactment of the flag raising on Iwo Jima from World War II and a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

The best part was the candy.

At least that's what most of the kids said.

More than 65 entrants in the parade threw candy, passed out fliers and entertained several hundred roadside parade-goers Wednesday during the annual City of Kenai Parade and Festivities.

Johna Beech, executive director of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said they were surprised at the turnout given the weather.

"I'm thoroughly impressed, especially because mother nature is wanting to rain down upon us so I'm very happy to see the numbers turning out this year, it's great," Beech said.

For some, like Hakoa Montoya, the hour-and-a-half long parade was an entirely new experience.

The 6-year-old Kenai resident said he'd gotten to attend the parade after dropping his mom off at work in Kenai.

He wasn't sure which float was his favorite, but he proudly showed off a bright red bag full of candy and said the strawberry ones were the best.

For others like Greg Edelman his son Daniel Edelman, 7, and Riley Stimmel, 7, the parade is a familiar experience.

Greg sat in a parking lot in his glossy black 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia while Daniel and Riley bounced around in the seats, both full of candy.

"We come every year," Edelmann said. "Bring the car out and enjoy the fun."

Porter said the parade attendance was impressive.

"It might be a little bit chilly out but everybody's hearts are warm because guess what, they're all here," Porter said. "I thought the attendance would be lower.. it's just wonderful."

Porter said she thought a lot about other Americans who weren't able to celebrate.

"You know where the fires are in Colorado, the flooding they've had in Florida and certainly the power outtages they're having on the East Coast," Porter said. "They're obviously, probably not doing the parades as they normally do, but they have to know the rest of America's heart's with them and we're celebrating for them."

Beech said there were vendors at Midway, the after-parade festival, who come in from out of town to sell their products in Kenai.

"That's definitely a draw to the community. So it does boost us economically, especially if we can bring them in for the parade and keep them for the festivities," Beech said.

It costs between $8,000 to $15,000 to put on the parade every year Beech said and all of the proceeds go back into the parade fund, however donations from the City of Kenai, Central Peninsula Hospital, Furie Operating Alaska, Ford and XTO Energy helped to defray costs in 2012.

Beech said the donations along with the 25 volunteers were key to keeping the parade and festival going each year.

Jade Sheppard, 5, of Anchorage, thought the parade was impressive.

"I loved everything with the parade. I think it was so much fun," she said. "Cause it has candy, it has lots of goodies."

As she spoke, the diamonds stuck on to her face sparkled in the sunlight.

She explained they were necessary for her parade outfit along with the red, white and blue headband she wore.

"It's a parade and we need diamonds on our face," Sheppard.

She gestured to the group of girls standing around and said she loved being with them.

"We had so much fun cause the butterscotch and the candy and the horses and all my best friends are there," Sheppard said.

Montoya said he'd like to attend another parade and started to explain which part was his favorite when a handful of Tootsie Rolls skipped down the street to land at his feet.

Montoya dove for them.

He looked up from the ground grinning widely and said "this part."

Rashah McChesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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loveourkids
11
Points
loveourkids 07/05/12 - 10:27 am
2
0
CANDY the best part?

Well, unfortunately if the candy was the best part than the parade was pretty sad. A couple comments from those of us who were so patriotically sitting towards the end: A. The candy was none existant. We had several families next to us and our kids got an average of 4 pieces each, as did their children, so if were gonna go on the notion that this parade is full of goodies for children, well, there were a lot of sad children where we were sitting, perhaps it should be counceled to the floats that they hold off on passing it all out in the beginning. B. even though there was a mass crowd in support of this event, it was a common concensus that it was twice as slow as it should have been. This parade seriously needed to be sped up a tad. C. why Aren't these so called "floats" decorating themselves, blaring music, doing anything that might make the parade a bit more festive? Seems to me the spirit of the holiday is lost somewhere in translation.

OldAlaskan
2
Points
OldAlaskan 07/06/12 - 08:26 pm
0
0
Parade

Yes the Parade needs some new blood.
Speed it up, but slow the motorcycles down.
Why the high speed show? Nobody is impressed with their large egos. 60 yr old showoffs.
Where is a marching band? The drum corps was outstanding.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 07/07/12 - 07:00 am
0
0
It Ain't a Parade without a MARCHING BAND

We have been attending this 4th of July Parade for a Lifetime.

But one of the 1st things ya notice, It's Too Quite !

NO MARCHING BAND ? ?

Need the Air Force Band from Elemendorf AFB to participate
in Our Parade.

Happy BirthDay America SPW

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