BELTON — The 90th annual Fourth of July parade went off without a hitch Friday, despite concerns that the severe thunderstorms that battered the area Thursday might negatively impact attendance.
Carl Worley, who has been attending the parade for 30 years, wasn’t worried about the rain.
“There’s good weather every year,” Worley said. “In 30 years it’s never been rained out.”
The Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, the group that organizes the parade, estimated that about 30,000 people come to the area annually for the parade and other festivities.
In 2008, Belton’s Fourth of July parade was included on
a list of top 10 cities to “fly your patriotic colors on July Fourth” by USA Today.
The parade, which was sponsored by Coufal-Prater Equipment, began at 10 a.m. at 10th and Main streets.
It proceeded about a half-mile south to the intersection of North Main and Central Avenue.
From there the parade headed east another half-mile before concluding at the intersection of Central Avenue and North Birdwell Street.
The final float, a bus from The HOP, passed by the reviewing stand about 11:30 a.m. As the last unofficial float — a public works crew collecting barricades — crept slowly down Central Avenue, families began folding tents and hauling off empty coolers.
The theme for this year’s parade was “United We Stand.”
This year also marked the debut of expanded judging categories for the over 200 organizations that entered floats in the parade.
The decision to expand the judging categories was made by the Belton Area Chamber of Commerce after receiving requests from last year’s judges.
“The judges wanted more opportunities to recognize the floats,” said Mark Arrazola, programs director for the chamber. This year the judges were able to present awards in 10 categories.
Best of show went to the Belton Police Department’s Citizens Helping in Police Service program, while best float went to the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas, more commonly known as the SPJST.
Best sports team was presented to the Cen-Tex Rollergirls, and best commercial entry was given to CGI, an information technology and business process service.
Best church youth group went to Maxdale Cowboy Church while best vehicle was presented to the 36th Recon Living History Group, an organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the 36th Infantry Division in World War II, who entered a vintage M3A1 halftrack.
Best equestrian group was presented to Homer Dye Propane and best walking or marching group went to American Patriots, a group of family and close friends who wanted to show their love and loyalty to the country.
Pam Swanson was one of many attendees who shared in the sense of patriotism that emboldened the American Patriots group.
“It’s about freedom,” Swanson said. “That we’re able to sit here and celebrate this tradition.”
Jeff Ventner, a Belton resident, was pleased just to be able to attend the parade.
“I got to see it last year two weeks after I got out of the hospital for a heart operation,” Ventner said. “So last year was pretty special.”