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July 4, 2014

Jeffersonville parade draws big crowd

NEW ALBANY — As candy rained down from parade floats and fire trucks made their way down Spring Street for the annual Jeffersonville Celebrating Freedom parade and program on Friday, Jay Ellis, director of Jeffersonville Main Street, said he hoped the crowd kept in mind the real meaning behind the Independence Day festivities.

“On a special day like the Fourth of July, everybody’s displaying their patriotism, but I hope they also remember their sense of community,” Ellis said. “We have a lot of pride in our origins and our country’s origins. We want people to remember that freedom isn’t free and many people through the generations have sacrificed to make this country what it is today. That’s why we’re so pleased to put on this event.”

With temperatures in the 70s and clear skies, Ellis said this year’s parade turnout — and participation — tops last year by quite a bit.

Jim Ford, parade chairman, said about 60 different groups were in the parade, ranging from community organizations to political candidates. He said about 20 percent more participation was represented down the route through Spring Street.

“It was a beautiful day and a great turnout, both along the parade route and in the presentation in the park,” Ford said. “I’d like to thank all the participants that took part in it and the police that helped us out along with the city.”

Christina Hopfensperger, 25, Jeffersonville, brought her daughter, Lileigh Winters, 3, to the parade. She said though they liked celebrating their patriotism, Lileigh was excited about the fire trucks and candy.

“She’s never been to a parade,” Hopfensperger said. “I didn’t even know about the parade until this morning. I’m just glad she gets to see all the people in the community out here.”

Kofi Darku, 38, Jeffersonville, said he and his family live just about four blocks away from where the parade was held. He said it was nice to see a variety of people enjoying the festivities.

“Instantly, you see a blend of ages out here, from the very young to the very old and we all get to celebrate how awesome our country is,” Darku said.

Following the parade, attendees went to Warder Park for a commemorative ceremony including a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” and speeches from local political officeholders. But veterans were also recognized, including servicemen on stage who served from World War II to Desert Storm.

Ellis said he’s glad to see the entire event continue to grow and hopes next year will be bigger.

“We’ve got a good formula that works,” Ellis said. “It’s a great day to celebrate our freedom and remember all the sacrifices that were made to do that. We’ve got a great parade, it was a great ceremony and every year, it seems like there are more people on the parade route to cheer on the entrants.”

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