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Patriotism overflows at star-spangled Berks Fourth of July Parade

The sky darkened and a few raindrops were felt about halfway through the Wyomissing Fourth of July parade Thursday morning, but the bands played on.

The weather never posed much of a threat to the star-spangled spectacle, an Independence Day tradition for many. In fact, the clouds, along with the towering oak trees lining the parade route, provided some respite from the mid-morning sunshine on a warm, muggy day.

A large flag drapes a home during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
A large flag drapes a home during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Homes along the route were decorated with red-white-and-blue bunting and all sizes of the Star-Spangled Banner, including one so large it was draped like an awning over a section of a wrap-around second-floor porch overlooking Cleveland Avenue.

People gathered four rows deep on the sidewalks on Cleveland at its intersection with Evans Avenue, where the procession pivoted to begin the home stretch to the Stone House along the Wyomissing Creek.

From left, Richard Eskelund, and Anna and Kip Knauer of Wyomissing are first-time attendees during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Richard Eskelund, left, and Anna and Kip Knauer of Wyomissing are first-time attendees during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Among the crowd were some first-timers who heard about the parade and wanted to experience it themselves.

Kip and Anna Knauer of Wyomissing found a space between a police vehicle and the barricade on Evans for their party, which included their sons Ronan, 5, and Ben, 4.

The Sons of the American Revolution display the colors during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
The Sons of the American Revolution display the colors during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Kip said they previously lived in the Kutztown area. A marching band drummer in his youth, he was mostly there for the musical groups, wanting his sons —”future drummers” — to see the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps perform.

The Wyomissing Fire Department trails bubbles during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
The Wyomissing Fire Department trails bubbles during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The bands played on through the uncertain weather.

The Buccaneer Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps make the turn onto Evans AVenue from Cleveland Avenue during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
The Buccaneer Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps make the turn onto Evans AVenue from Cleveland Avenue during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Beyond the music, something felt right as they settled in before the start of the parade, about the greater community coming together for the singular purpose of celebrating the birth of the United States as an independent nation, Kip said.

“I think, right now, coming into a political season, unity and American flags — it’s great to see American flags,” he said. “It’s great to see the crowd.”

The Knauers were joined on the walk from their vehicle by Suzie Ligammari of Wyomissing Hills and her children, Annie, 3; Rosie, 5; and Teddy, 6, and Suzie’s father, Richard Eskelund Maidencreek Township.

Ligammari said she and her children participate annually in the Memorial Day parade in their neighborhood, riding decorated bikes in the procession.

Children rush for candy during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Children rush for candy during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

They were excited to watch the Independence Day Parade for the first time because they knew people in the procession.

“They’re excited about getting candy, too,” she said.

Red, white and blue necklaces are handed out along the route during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Red, white and blue necklaces are handed out along the route during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

In addition to the Buccanneers Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps, the bands playing patriotic tunes included the Reading Philharmonic Band, Hawk Mountain Highlanders, Pretzel City Dixieland Jazz Band, The Happy Dutchmen German Band, Hamilton Celtic Pipe Band and the Rajah Chanters.

Attendees wave to participants during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Attendees wave to participants during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The Wyomissing and Pretzel City bands also performed at the Stone House following the parade as part of Independence Day festivities that included novelty games, raft rides and the rubber ducky race.

Classic cars were part of Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Classic cars were part of Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The parade route had a block-party atmosphere. Homeowners erected canopies, hosting their out-of-town friends including Wyomissing High school alumni.

“If you’re born and raised here in Wyomissing, it’s like a reunion,” said Denise Goeltz-Menzies, a member of the Wyomissing Class of 1976. “You’ll see all your classmates from high school return for the parade.”

Goetz-Menzies, who still lives in Wyomissing, said the crowds seem to grow every year. She was there with her mother, Joyce Goeltz, who never misses the parade.

Cara Pepper of Shillington, marching with the Atonement Lutheran Church Stewardship Group, deploys a patriotic umbrella during light rain in Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Cara Pepper of Shillington, marching with the Atonement Lutheran Church Stewardship Group, deploys a patriotic umbrella during light rain in Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The 50-minute procession included diverse entries. Among the most striking was the Reading Hospital/Tower Health mobile mammography tour bus, led by a procession of hospital staff, executives and supporters — on foot and in a pink Jeep — wearing pink T-shirts touting the virtues of breast-cancer screening.

The Greater Kensington String Band performs during Wyomissing's Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
The Greater Kensington String Band performs during Wyomissing’s Independence Day Parade on Thursday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Near the end of the parade the Greater Kensington String Band, strutted by, followed by a procession of World War II-era Army Jeeps behind banners that stated, “Honoring our World War II Veterans.”

Among the passengers in those Jeeps were 30 World War II veterans. All around 100 years old, they smiled and waved as spectators showed their admiration and respect with sustained applause and cheers.


Source: Berkshire mont

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