BRATTLEBORO >> Red, white and blue lined Main Street on Monday as people gathered for the town's 43rd annual Independence Day celebration.
The morning began soon after the Bill Powers Memorial Firecracker four mile run. The course was fairly flat for competitors until the last half mile or so, where runners made their way uphill on Main Street to the Common. Following the athletes were Brattleboro's Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, which sponsored the parade for a second year. Several members of the Elks held onto the perimeter of the state's largest American flag and carried it through the entirety of the parade route.
Following close behind was the sound of the American Legion Post 5 band playing patriotic tunes. Continued U.S. pride was demonstrated by the local veterans, baseball teams and emergency responders who walked or drove in the parade. People cheered and waved and kids collected candy that was tossed their way by parade participants.
In addition to the runners and baseball athletes, other competitors made their debut at the event. Baton twirlers as well as members of the Recreation & Parks Department, Kelly's Dance Academy and of Girls on the Run waved to the crowd and smiled as they walked in the annual Fourth of July parade.
The elders of the community were not forgotten either as Holton Home and Bradley House and Thompson House were represented Monday morning.
The Brattleboro Union High School band took on the heat in their purple and white marching band uniforms and kept the American spirit up through music. In addition to the live tunes, radio show hosts and employees of the WTSA radio station were present at the event and greeted the Brattleboro community.
Many children "oo'd" and awed" as fire trucks from several department drove up Main Street. Members of the department waved to the crowd from their vehicles.
Aside from the sirens and drums from local bands, perhaps the most noise came from a large group of students from World Learning's programs, the Governor's Institute and Iraq Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). One gentleman in the front of the group started a chant, "everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are " The group of students repeated the chant and answered that they are the "youth of today." Several of them held signs that displayed messages around peace building, empowerment, leadership and other types of social activism.
Ranya Shabeez, a 17-year-old from Iraq and an IYLEP participant, made and held a sign during the parade that read, "the soul has no gender." Shabeez felt this message explains that everyone was born equal, but differences among men and women were made by imposed social conditions.
Concluding the event was local personality Alfred Hughes Jr. who showed off his long red gown with a low back decorated with crystals. Hughes let out his notorious whole belly laugh and waved to the crowd with a big smile.
After, the town Recreation & Parks Department offered a series of public concerts, sporting events and family activities at Living Memorial Park before the fireworks (by Northstar, a Vermont-owned company).
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275