A perfect day to celebrate Independence

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By Jimmie Earls

Many folks were in agreement that you couldn’t have asked for a better day than Friday to celebrate the birth of United States. With temperatures in the mid-80s and a clear, blue sky, people from near and far made their way to Springfield for the city’s 11th annual Independence Day celebration.

Shortly before 6 p.m., participants gathered on the sidewalk of the 1816 Courthouse to take part in the best-decorated bike and best-decorated dog contests. The bikes ranged from the simple to the extravagant with Nathan Hodgens winning for his entry featuring patriotic artwork from local students. Nate Mangan’s dog, Buddy, took home the top prize for his Abraham Lincoln outfit.

As time drew closer for the parade at 7 p.m., lots of spectators took their places along Main Street, hoping to get the best view of the parade route. Hattie Clark sang the national anthem and the parade was officially under way. Local politicians and dignitaries carried the stars and stripes at the head of the procession. Springfield Mayor John Cecconi greeted the crowd along with his wife, Rita, and their grandson, Sam.

Anna Pettus, who was just named 2011 Washington County Junior Miss, made her first public appearance, while former Junior Miss Josette Taylor and several of the contestants rode atop a Springfield fire truck.

Keeping with the theme of “Celebrating Our Veterans and Military,” local veterans rode in Corvettes supplied by the Bluegrass Corvette Club. Members of the Red Hat Society hitched a ride on Charlie and Sharon Raymond’s manure spreader, and members of Four Dragons Academy gave a demonstration of mixed martial arts.

The parade stopped briefly for a performance by the Central Kentucky Youth Actors, who treated the crowd to a selection from Alice In Wonderland.

As the parade came to an end, many people packed into the courtroom in the 1816 Courthouse to watch a dramatization of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln given by Larry and Mary Elliott, members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters.

Meanwhile, on the lawn at Dr. Ben Smith’s office, kids lined up for the watermelon eating and watermelon seed spitting contests, while Blair Carmen and the Belleview Boys rocked the main stage with over two hours of rockabilly and country music.

Most of the crowd stayed as the sun slowly set over Springfield. The intersection of Main Street and Cross Main Street was lined with hundreds of people who watched the celebration come to a close with a fireworks display. If you happen to be from the United States of America, that’s not a bad way to celebrate your nation’s 234th birthday.