It's been 50 years since Alaska has celebrated America's birthday as the 49th State and according to those who still can recall all of those past celebrations the weather for the 4th of July parade in Kenai has never been a more perfect day than last Saturday. "Oh my gosh!" exclaimed City Mayor Pat Porter, "I think somebody up above knew we needed an absolutely perfect day to honor the State of Alaska and it is here today. Just look how excited all the children are for this beautiful day," she added. Echoing Porter's enthusiasm was the Mayor of Soldotna, Peter Micciche. "We're here not only to honor our country and our state on its 50th anniversary, but my family is here to wish the people of our sister city Kenai a wonderful 4th of July. And the weather just couldn't be any better," said Micciche, whose father visiting from Florida drove the Micciche family down the parade route in new Stanley Ford Mustang convertible.
Borough Mayor David Carey marched in the parade with a 49-star spangled banner. "50 years ago this was our nation's flag when Alaska officially came into the Union, and today is the most awesome day ever," said Carey. "I remember lots of 4th of July parades from the sixties to today, we've hardly missed any," said Carol Tauriainen-Ernst, "There have been some beautiful 4th of July's in the early 70's. I remember someone saying if you want to have a nice day for a wedding, do it on the 4th of July. But there have never been any better than today that I can recall," she said. While no official count was tallied, Kenai Chamber and City officials agree that it was the largest 4th of July crowd ever to turn out for the parade and celebrations, with estimates between 8,000 to 12,000 people throughout the day. The second annual Metal Pour was also a huge success, with coordinator Scott Hamann saying the crowd more than doubled from last year. "People from around the state, and Texas and New Mexico came together again to make this happen. We've assembled some great artists here that produced some fantastic pieces. This is the first link of a 50-link chain that will be forged in every state across America as a symbol of our unity," said Hamann.
Winning the Best Overall trophy for parade performance was the KCHS Drumline and second place went to the float built by the Kenai Central High School Art Department. "We heard that the art students spent more than 20 hours making this float, which with the cooperation of Lyndon Transport and the City of Kenai, made one of the most beautiful floats we've ever seen in our parade," said Tina Baldridge, Kenai Chamber executive director. First place for an individual entry went to Mayor Pat Porter and second to the Grand Marshalls of this year's historic parade, Dr. Peter and Karolee Hansen. For more parade results go to www.kenaichamber.org, or call 283-7989.
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