Bikers ride in patriotic formation during America's Birthday celebration in Kenai.
Most everyone agrees that Wednesday’s 4th of July Parade in Kenai was the biggest and best attended event in the city’s history of parades. “The first 4th of July Parade I remember was the summer we arrived in 1974, it took about ten minutes for the dozen or so entries to complete the parade, and half of them were politicians running for office,” commented a retired oil field worker. Janie Odgers, Kenai Chamber of Commerce executive director said there were over 100 entries in the parade and most entries had well over 10 people with them which pushed the estimate to well over 1,000 people marching, riding, biking, and dancing down Main Street to the Sterling Highway and pass the judges stand. “Following the parade the Park Strip was shoulder to shoulder with parade goers, the vendors were very happy. You couldn’t walk through the strip if you wanted to move you had to walk around,” said Jason Carroll, Kenai Chamber President.
Crusaders of the past and long before Independence Day were remembered in 4th of July Parade.
The 1,500 helium Tesoro balloons and bags were given out long before Grand Marshalls George and Mary Ford made their way down the parade route. With a military escort Queens Anita Necessary and Emily Deforest reigned as an example of community service and commitment to America’s principles. Four generations of 4-H members from as far away as Homer and Nikiski joined a hundred or so in parading everything from horses and calves to rabbits and goats. Firefighters led by Smokey himself received standing cheers of appreciation for their efforts in the Caribou Hills wildfire. Nearly three dozen Harley Davidson motorcycles rode in formation with flags, patriotic costumes and pipes roaring.
Molly Watkins combines a bike from the past with an energy message for the future at annual 4th of July Parade in Kenai.
The theme of this year’s parade was Celebrating America’s Historic Moments and inspired Kenai City Mayor Pat Porter to don period attire and March for Women’s Suffrage, while Scott Hammond of Metal Magic restored one of the first Farmall tractors brought to the Matanuska Valley in 1936 by his grandfather. “He bought it brand new, he was a colonist in the Matanuska Valley arriving in 1935 and plowed his first furrows behind a horse but he figured that was too much work so the next year he bought this tractor and had it brought up by steamship and it’s been working in Alaska from then on until two years ago when it started leaking some oil and this year I restored it for the parade and that’s what’s in store for its future as its earned some rest and appreciation for all the work its done,” Hammond told the Dispatch. Historical resting was also the theme for the KDLL’s Precision Lawn Chair Marching Drill Society and Whiz Bang Band, “This is getting to be more fun each year, you never know who’s going to show up to march but you always know it’s going to be fun,” said Allen Auxier, KDLL Pickle Hill general manager.
When the judges scores were tallied the overall Kenai Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Parade Champion was the Kenai Peninsula 4H Club-Skyview Future Farmers of America. Best Organization float was the Grace Lutheran Church and School. Taking 1st Place in the Commercial category was the Diamond M Ranch, RV Park, Cabins & B&B.
Greg and Judi Bartlett won the Auto category with their 1969 Super sport, and Molly Watkins won the best individual entry with her Caring for the Kenai Compact Fluorescent Light bulb project and unicycle ride. Winning the youth category was Nikiski North Star Elementary.
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