Annual event draws large crowd to streets of West Union –
Story by Patricia Beech –
Photos by Mark Carpenter –
Overcast skies and the threat of rain failed to dim enthusiasm for Tuesday’s Independence Day Parade in West Union. The annual event, sponsored by the West Union Lions Club, celebrated America’s 241st birthday.
Crowds lined the parade route waving flags and cheering as floats, tractors, Scouts, and politicians rolled slowly along Main Street, led by Grand Marshals Gary McClellan and Bonnie Harover.
“This is what’s great about small town America,” said Lions Club member Stephen Caraway. “Neighbors, friends, and family coming together, lining the streets of this village to celebrate our independence.”
Spectator Lana Stamper of West Union said she thought the parade provided an opportunity to honor our country and focus on the things that unite us.
“I believe it’s really important to have Independence Day parades,” said Stamper. “Our country is still the greatest in the world, no matter what your politics are, it’s still the greatest.” Stamper attended the parade with her husband Stephen, an ex-Marine and member of the Adams County Honor Guard.
Jamie Napper, who attended the parade with her husband and mother-in-law, agreed with Stamper’s unifying message, “It’s wonderful to see the whole community out. Everybody’s happy, everybody has come together, we need this, it’s a shame we can’t have something like this every day.”
The winning entries for the 2017 parade were: the Roy Gabbert Float for Best Business; the Liberty Farmers 4-H Club for Best Youth entry; Russ Grooms for Best Car entry; the West Union First Baptist Church for Best Church entry; the Board of Developmental Disabilities for Best General Entry; and White Farm for Best In Parade.
The White Farm Float always generates considerable anticipation among the spectators, wondering what theme will be presented.
“We’ve been coming to this parade as long as I can remember,” said Napper. “We really look forward to the White’s float because it’s something different every year, and it’s always great.”
Eric White says patriotism is the motivation behind his family’s contribution to the parade.
“Celebrating our independence and the origin of our country is really important for all of us,” White said, adding, “All of the people who participate in our democracy should celebrate this holiday.”
This year the family chose to honor the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I. Led by fully uniformed WWI soldiers on horseback, their float featured a life-size, olive green WWI fighter plane constructed of wood and heavy-duty woven plastic.
“Most people no longer recognize the monumental changes brought about by World War I,” said White, who designed and built the bi-plane. ” That war brought America out of its isolationism, and it was the origin of our modern military and of our global involvement.”
Caraway, who served as emcee for the event, declared the 2017 parade “one of the biggest and best”.
“This parade is one of West Union’s longest running traditions,” he said. “We’re grateful for all the community support, that’s what makes this parade so successful every year.”