Smokey the Bear waves to the crowd during Kenai’s annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Smokey the Bear waves to the crowd during Kenai’s annual Independence Day parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Independence on display

Community celebrates the 4th with parade, candy, celebration

Spectators flooded the streets of downtown Kenai on Sunday for the annual Fourth of July parade and park celebration, after the coronavirus pandemic forced many to stay home last year.

Floats of different local businesses and organizations passed through town while children rushed to gather candy and toys the drivers tossed from their windows.

After the parade, people made their way to the city green strip for carnival games, food vendors and informational booths.

John Harris, a captain at the Kenai Fire Department, had a crew at the strip overseeing the kids games. Children were allowed to spray the hose to put out a fire, which was actually a prop from the Nikiski Fire Department, or take photos in the driver’s seat of the firetruck.

“The turnout looks great. I’m sure people are excited to get out,” Harris said on Sunday. “We do this every Fourth of July, we’ll come out here and flow water for the kids and sometimes we turn it into a competition.”

MaryAnne Dyke was at the park with the non profit organization ReGroup — an educational cooperative dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of reduction, reuse and recycling.

“The kids … they sure know a lot,” she said. “It’s really great.”

Dyke also rode on ReGroup’s float in the parade, which had three different blocks of recycled materials on the back — each one clocking in at around 2,000 pounds.

“I heard a lot of ‘wows’ today,” she said.

According to ReGroup’s statistics, last year 24.45 tons of aluminum were recycled, as well as 28.46 tons of plastic and 326.15 tons of cardboard.

Also in the parade and with a bake sale booth at the park event was Kelsi Staton, who was helping fundraise for the Little League All Stars.

She said she wasn’t expecting the turnout.

“It looks fantastic to me,” Staton said. “I was kind of surprised at how many people showed up.”

The All Stars have a tournament coming up, and she said they were raising money so the kids could have a chance to play.

The green strip was open for the community to play games, eat lunch and listen to live music until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

Officials with the Smokey Bear float hand out bracelets during Kenai’s annual Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Officials with the Smokey Bear float hand out bracelets during Kenai’s annual Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Kids ride in the back of the American Legion float during Kenai’s annual Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Kids ride in the back of the American Legion float during Kenai’s annual Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

An official with the fire department teaches kids how to extinguish flames with the firehose during the carnival games at the annual Fourth of July celebration in Kenai on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

An official with the fire department teaches kids how to extinguish flames with the firehose during the carnival games at the annual Fourth of July celebration in Kenai on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Community members affiliated with local organizations participate in Kenai’s annual Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

Community members affiliated with local organizations participate in Kenai’s annual Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)

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