Stars and stripes

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A participant throws candy to the crowd as others wave during a Fourth of July parade in the Meeksville community in Pike County, Ala., Wednesday, July 4, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Hundreds turn out for Meeksville’s first Fourth of July parade

Two-year-old Liberty Bills pointed at a dog and smiled, then she pointed at motorcycles, horses and firetrucks.

The blue-eyed, curly-haired Liberty was at her first Fourth of July parade.

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“I am excited to see her reaction to everything,” said Bills’ mother, Amanda Smith, of Banks. “We had heard about the parade before, but since it was moving and new, we decided to check it out.”

Bills and Smith were also watching for the youngster’s grandfather and older brothers to pass by in a Banks Volunteer Fire Department truck.

Hundreds of people, both spectators and parade participants, turned out for Meeksville’s first Fourth of July parade. The event had previously been held in China Grove.

And from the squeals of children as 4-wheelers and antique cars passed, the event was just as much a success in its new home as it was in China Grove.

Jack and Billye Maye Rainey also brought their two-year-old – a gigantic and friendly Great Dane named Comet.

Comet snacked on ice – one of his favorite treats – and indulged in lemonade while the Raineys found some shade under the back door of their SUV.

“It’s got everything,” Jack Rainey said about the parade. “For the kids, for the adults and for America.”

“They bring old cars and old tractors out and put red, white and blue ribbon on them,” Billey Maye Rainey added.

The couple said they’d been to the parade in its previous location many times and were eager to see it in its new home.

Wesley Nelson is from China Grove and said he used to ride his dirt bike in the parade there when he was younger.

“I’ve been going ever since it started,” Nelson shared. “I remember going in seventh and eighth grade. It’s grown a lot.”

Nelson had already picked out a parade-watching spot and was sitting roadside with a few folks before the event kicked off. One of his parade-watching partners was John Whatley from Ramer. Whatley was also no stranger to the China Grove version of the event.

“You get to see people riding their lawnmowers in the parade,” Whatley laughed. “You never know what you are going to see. We wouldn’t miss it.”