‘Stars and Stripes Forever’: Thousands flock to Fourth of July Parade
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Stars and stripes shimmered among the crowd of attendees and participants in Shepherdstown’s annual Fourth of July Parade on July 4.
With thousands of people roaming the sidewalks and streets, the parade began with the national anthem being sung by Bonnie Pullen, of Shepherdstown, before parade emcee Todd Coyle took over in announcing the 74 groups in the parade lineup.
“America, Happy Birthday!” Coyle said, as the crowd watched the Civil Air Patrol’s honor guard make their way down German Street. “Welcome to the Shepherdstown Rotary’s Fourth of July Parade. Welcome to small town America!”
For many attendees, the parade was an opportunity to celebrate the holiday with family members and friends.
“My wife really wanted to come, because they have it every year, and we’ve never attended before. We haven’t made any plans beyond this,” said Randy Blaylock, of Hedgesville, as his two great-grandsons ran up to him. “They go to parades all the time in Martinsburg. I hope they enjoy it.”
Randy’s wife, Marilyn Blaylock, coordinates Martinsburg’s Christmas Parade, and said she hoped to encourage some of the Fourth of July Parade entries to participate in the December parade.
“This was a kind of a spur-of-the-moment ‘let’s go.’ We’re scoping this one out, to see who might be able to come to the Christmas Parade in Martinsburg,” Marilyn said, mentioning her great-grandsons love seeing the firetrucks in parades. “We love parades, and especially the boys, they love parades. It’ll be nap time for all of us by the time we’re finished!”
According to parade attendee Rosalie Bares, of Shepherdstown, watching the parade is an event she has enjoyed for many years.
“You see all the people from Shepherdstown all in one place, and that feeling you get from everyone in Shepherdstown is so inclusive and kind,” Bares said, before mentioning she had a new reason this year to watch the parade. “I get to see my grandkids in the parade! This is a great event for family and friends — we have a bunch of them here today.”
While the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County were an entry in the parade, they also had a booth set up in front of the Shepherdstown Public Library, where member Eleanor Finn was helping people fill out voter registration forms, which were later delivered to the Jefferson County election office. According to Finn, having the booth was an appropriate way for the nonpartisan group to honor the spirit of Independence Day.
“This might be the first time we’ve done this for this event,” Finn said. “It’s important for everyone to be registered to vote, and once they’re registered, to actually vote. I hope this will remind people they have a role to play in their country.”