Parade watchers carry on traditions

Those who gather to watch annual Fourth of July highlight continue traditions of their own

Every Fourth of July, Janai Lowenstein, 65, zig-zags the entire route of the Ashland parade.

"I don't want to miss anyone," Lowenstein, who won second place for adult entry, said. "I want all the children to see the wonder of the Fourth of July and be filled with joy."

Lowenstein, or "Grandma Boom" as her 5-year-old grandson nicknamed her, sported a red, feathered hat and shiny blue cape to walk in Friday's parade, themed "This Land is Our Land."

Starting at Triangle Park, the parade streamed through Ashland in its usual, gallivanting fashion.

Hawaiian dancers in brown grass skirts caused a swarm of toddlers watching to sway their hips in imitation, macaroni noodles grooved down the street and The Websters waved artfully knitted flags.

While traditional Mexican dancers and a herd of horses were also crowd-pleasers, one of the biggest cheers of the parade went to the ubiquitous pooper scooper who was following the horses, armed with a shovel and wheelbarrow.

Ashland native Sharon Laskos was attending the parade for the 62nd time. Unlike the previous 61, however, this time she held her first grandchild, 4-month-old Avi Laskos.

Sharon said she and her husband, Ed, enjoy seeing so many people they know in the parade.

"The clubs, the politicians, the kids, we wouldn't miss it," Sharon said, before pausing to wave at paddle boarders passing by.

"The one disappointing part is that now people mark their spots the night before and don't show up until 15 minutes or so before the parade," Sharon added. "In years before, people would come at five or six in the morning, and that was part of the experience."

Wiggling in her grandma's arms to the music, Avi seemed perfectly content with her first parade experience.

Some parade watchers found creative ways to escape the heat and still have a good view. Heads could be seen poking out from trees lining the parade, while down the road a trio perched on a ladder.

As temperatures climbed past 80 degrees and the parade came to a close, Secilia Wakefield, 4, was pragmatic about her favorite part of the experience.

"I liked drinking water," she said.

The celebration didn't end with the parade, however.

A Mardi Gras carnival-themed group called Samba Likes it Hot circled up in the street, playing their instruments and dancing.

A woman pulled a tambourine out of her backpack and began tapping in rhythm. A Hawaiian dancer passing by joined in.

People paused in their treks back to their homes and cars to watch or dance, red, white and blue costumes joining the swirl of green and purple in classic American melting-pot fashion.

Reach Mail Tribune reporting intern Kelsey Thomas at 541-776-4368 or Follow her on Twitter @kelseyethomas.

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