Parade honors China Grove’s ‘Hank’

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 1, 2011

The residents of China Grove will roll out the red, white and blue carpet Monday and invite everyone to celebrate the Fourth of July the old-fashioned way with friends and neighbors and an anything-goes Independence Day parade.

However, this year’s parade will be bittersweet for the family and friends Hank LaFountaine, China Grove resident who died on May 16.

“Hank loved China Grove and he enjoyed the Fourth of July so much,” said his widow, Diane LaFountaine. “Every year, 11 years in all, he worked so hard doing his part to get everything ready for the parade and he wanted so much to be here this year.

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“Everyone has been so thoughtful, helpful and kind. The parade is being held in loving memory of Hank and that means so much to all of us who love him.”

The annual China Grove Fourth of July Parade is a community event and will celebrate its 12th year on Monday.

LaFountaine said the entire community comes together to make the Fourth of July a special occasion. The parade began as a neighborhood event with kids riding tricycles and pulling wagons and has grown to be a huge parade with several thousand lining the roadsides and the downtown area of the usually sleepy little community,

The Grand Marshal of the 2011 China Grove Parade will be Meeksville Fire Fighter John Register.

“We wanted to honor our fire fighters because they do so much to keep us safe,” said LaFountaine who is parade publicity chair. “And they are such dedicated supporters of the parade.”

The parade will get underway at 10 a.m. Monday with lineup beginning at 9 a.m. on the Needmore and Lockheed Martin roads.

“It’s not too late to show your patriotism and community spirit by putting an entry in the parade,” LaFountaine said. “Just come Monday, get in line and join the fun.”

The parade isn’t the only fun to be had in China Grove on the Fourth of July.

Following the parade, the Benton Brothers will be back by popular demand as the featured entertainment. And, as soon as the parade ends, the Dean family rolls out the watermelon wagon and begins slicing ice cold, red melons that are free for the asking and a “thank you” in return.

“We’ll have barbecue plates for sale and ice cream and lots of other snacks and treats,” LaFountaine said. “Those who want to bring a picnic are welcome to do so. And, you don’t have to be in a hurry to leave. You’re welcome to stay in ‘town’ and visit with friends and neighbors and make new friends, too.”

The community of China Grove welcomes all of those who want to celebrate the Fourth of July the old-fashioned way and everyone who comes is encouraged to be courteous and thoughtful visitors.