LIMESTONE – Calling it bigger and better than ever, local officials offered up their annual Fourth of July parade, which featured scores of participants and drew a crowd of about 2,000.
Grace O’Neal, director of the Greater Limestone Chamber of Commerce and parade chairperson, said Tuesday that the town has celebrated the holiday with a parade since the 1930s. She said that officials try to expand festivities every year and that this year was no exception.
“We try to make it the longest, best parade in The County,” she said.
O’Neal said organizers had about 70 parade entries on board with more showing up at the last minute, thanks in part to a $500 cash award for best entry. The theme this year was “Pride of Maine.” The prize went to the County Patriots Young Marines, which re-created the famous photograph taken after World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima.
This year’s parade also included appearances by the Pine State Motorcycle Club, Anah Shriners, the Fredericton and District Pipe and Drum Band, a juggler on stilts, humvees, huge pieces of farm machinery and a crowd favorite: a souped-up golf cart that could lift one wheel at a time about 3 feet off the ground.
Crowds lined both sides of Main Street, from FFA Street to the Route 89 junction, but even a light sprinkling of rain near the end of the parade did not stop people from taking in all the floats, bands and parade participants throwing candy.
Local officials said the town’s goal every year is to increase the size of and offerings at their Fourth of July celebration – which stretches for two weeks and ends on the Fourth of July – and each year they seem to be successful.
“This is just a continuation of years of interest from people in the community,” said Gary Cleaves, event committee co-chairman.
Events have been under way since June 17, when the town held its Little Miss Firecracker and Liberty pageants, a new event. The pageant winners participated in Tuesday’s parade. Other new events this year include an antique tractor pull, a wider range of events at Trafton Lake after the parade, and the first Water Light Parade on the lake.
Cleaves said organizers are hoping to increase the festivities and pack them into a two-week extravaganza in coming years, although he said that officials couldn’t have pulled off all the events they held this year without the assistance of about 100 volunteers.
The point of all the hard work, he said, is to draw more people to Limestone.
“It’s a small town, but this is one big thing that we do,” he said. “We want people to see what the town has to offer.”