STATE ROAD — Though the skies were cloudy on Saturday morning, the rain held off and the streets of Mountain Park community were lined with kids and adults anxiously awaiting the start of the annual July 4th parade. A cheer rose from the crowd when the first sirens could be heard rounding the bend.
As a stream of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, followed by classic cars, tractors, floats, motorcycles and horses came down the street, there was applause and cheers from onlookers. Children gathered candy thrown by parade participants and squealed for more as the next vehicle in the procession came by.
“We have a lot of wonderful vehicles, people and floats,” said Phil Harris, member of the Mountain Park Ruritan Club which organizes the annual July 4 celebration.
The celebration began 42 years ago, an idea from the man known locally as “the mayor of Mountain Park,” Harris said. George Saylor began the Mountain Park July Fourth celebration and the tradition has been carried on by the local Ruritan Club.
“It’s just a day to give back to the community,” Harris said.
Following the parade, the festivities continued with food, live music and fireworks at the day-long celebration.
“This celebrates our nation’s freedom for our little community here and it’s real special for us because this is a small community and for us to put on an event of this size and magnitude is really an opportunity for the community and surrounding area,” Harris said.
“We have a lot of wonderful veterans here that have sacrificed, even made the ultimate sacrifice, to be able to allow us to do this kind of stuff here in America and Mountain Park’s proud to be just a very small part of it,” he added.
A blood drive was also part of the event, sponsored by the Mountain Park Volunteer Fire Department.
“This is a small community, but we have a volunteer fire department and rescue squad,” Harris said. “We’re blessed to have them serve the community, too.”
The Mountain Park Ruritan Club only has 10 members, but Harris said they are still able to pull off the celebration each year.
Area churches also take part by selling food as fundraisers for their ministries.
Harris said he estimated that around 2,500 to 3,000 people came out to see the parade and an estimated 5,000 for the evening fireworks display.
Area residents and visitors said the event is a favorite tradition.
“I think it just brings everybody out,” said Robin Callaway, a lifelong resident of Mountain Park and teacher at the elementary school. “There’s people out here today that I only see once a year, friends, people you went to school with, it’s a big family event. It’s just a tradition for my family.”
Getting to spend time with friends was part of what Sandra Mayes, a visitor for Dobson said she enjoyed.
“It’s a tradition and about celebrating the birth of the United States and hanging out with good friends,” she said.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.