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Parade longer than usual a plus this year

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Much like a circus appears and then disappears suddenly in the night, scores of spectators filled downtown Lincoln for 60-minutes-plus the morning of July 4 and then were gone. There was something magical about seeing hundreds of spectators lining F and Fifth streets for this year?s Fourth of July parade, the theme of which was? Hooray for the Red White and Blue.? After fighting traffic to get home 10 minutes after the parade ended, there was something amazing about how quickly downtown returned to normal after the event. This year, I had the pleasure of watching the parade instead of running around with my camera so I really got to take in and appreciate the efforts made by parade entrants. Terri Reeves, membership and events coordinator for the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, said there were 60 parade entries this year, compared to the usual 45 to 50. The Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the Fourth of July parade each year and Reeves described the parade as ?awesome.? ?We got so many comments about how many more people there were this year and (entries) ran out of candy halfway down the streets, et cetera,? Reeves said. ?It is always so great seeing the community enjoy this event or any other that the chamber sponsors. That is what it is all about: community.? The increase in the number of parade entrants this year explained why the parade ran for an hour when it usually only goes for 30 to 40 minutes. It also explains why my co-worker?s children asked where the candy was this year, although they did get some candy toward the end and were quite delighted. Something that trumped the throwing of candy, in my opinion, was what Lincoln Gun Exchange brought to the party. The exchange?s working cannon fired what appeared to be a bean bag into the crowd. If you think kids go crazy over the throwing of candy, that?s nothing compared to the scrambling by kids wanting to find the cannon-fired bean bag. A majority of the floats and entries had children participation, which was nice to see for two reasons. Being in a parade, especially in the town you live in, is a memory those kids will be able to hang on to for life and could give them a sense of community that they?ll carry with them through life. A number of the parade entrants with children were nonprofits, such as Ride to Walk, Fruitvale School, the Police Activities League and Little League and other sports teams. It?s encouraging to see that because it means kids are being exposed to organizations that give back to the community. That could later inspire them to give back to the cities and towns they live in. By far the best part of the parade was seeing the respect spectators gave to veterans and military personnel who marched or rode in the parade. Sometimes, it feels like Independence Day is more about having the day off and barbecuing with friends and family than celebrating our nation?s independence from Great Britain. My opinion of that changed when I saw how many spectators stopped and put their hands over their hearts when the National Anthem was sung and when spectators clapped and cheered for veterans and active duty military personnel in the parade. Downtown is usually a pretty quiet place so there was something exciting about seeing so many local spectators at the parade. It reinforced that sense of community and small-town-feel that most residents I interview say they love about Lincoln.