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Fourth of July on the march

Annual parade ready to wind through Kenai

Posted: Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ever wanted to enter a parade but lacked the hand-eye coordination baton twirling requires? Is the concept "left-right-left" foreign to you but you want to march anyway? Then stop by KDLL's truck on Wednesday with a lawn chair and your sense of humor and join the ranks.

"There are no dues, no weekly meetings and no uniforms," said station manager Allen Auxier. "(It's) just for fun."

KDLL's Precision Lawn Chair Marching Drill Society and Whiz Bang Band will take to the streets at this year's Independence Day Parade along with a variety of floats, old cars and hot rods that will be "Celebrating America's Historic Moments." Parade-viewers will watch Neil Armstrong take his first step on the moon, wave at a passing suffragette and relive the creation of Old Glory while the music of the Dixie River Rats keeps everything hopping.

"We're also giving out 1,500 balloons, 500 pennants and 1,500 Tesoro bags," said Janie Odgers, executive director of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce.

Odgers said the celebration begins with the parade at 11 a.m. and includes a variety of entertainment, carnival games, booths, food and raffle prizes. Awards will be given for the best floats and this year's grand marshals, George and Mary Ford.

"We look for someone who has been in the community a long time," she said, "and who has been very supportive of the community, the city, the chamber and these two are."

Since George and Mary Ford moved to the Kenai Peninsula from California in 1975, George Ford served as president of the Rotary Club and Kenai chamber and is currently the president of the United Way and the Kenai Historical Society.

"I just enjoy doing community service," George said, "and being of help."

Mary was also instrumental in the historical society but decided writing would be the thing for her and headed to the Peninsula Clarion when it was just a weekly shopper.

"It was located next to the Casino Bar, and I thought maybe I could help out," she said. "They just opened their doors to me."

George said the Kenai chamber approached them with the idea of being grand marshal a month ago.

"(It) really caught me by surprise," he said. "(We) had no idea in the world."

When asked why she thought the city chose her and her husband as grand marshals, Mary said, "Because we're old."

"I really don't know," she said. "I think it's quite an honor. I think it's great."

A parade isn't complete without a queen and her court, but Kenai's processional is a bit different from other parades. Odgers said when she was new as the chamber's executive director, she received a tremendous amount of help from Interim Director Sue Carter.

"Every time I needed something I called her," Odgers said. "When it came time for our annual fundraiser I thought wouldn't it be fun to do something for her that was just kind of silly?"

So the chamber tied a sash around Carter, presented her with flowers and crowned her the first Queen of Kenai in 2004. Each year the queen chooses a successor and they all get to ride on the parade float.

"It recognizes some women in the community who have really made a difference," Odgers said. "It's just for a bit of fun."

The parade starts at the corner of Trading Bay Road and Main Street Loop and continues up Bidarka, making a left on Fidalgo and another left on Willow before heading out toward the Kenai Spur Highway. It ends at the green strip where Main Street Loop crosses the highway.

The roads will be closed for about an hour while the parade is on.

"We can't do this without the city of Kenai Police Department," Odgers said, adding that they're responsible for directing traffic and blocking roads. "They play a huge part in this parade."

Auxier said those who want to fling a lawn chair should look for the transmitter tower on the KDLL truck at the beginning of the parade.

No amount of practice or expertise is required.

"We'd love to have more people joining us," he said.

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.



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