Some came to honor those who have served and are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, some came to show off their sewing skills and some simply came to find some fun.
Whatever their reasons, hundreds attended Kenai’s Independence Day parade and festivities Monday, flooding Main Street Loop’s sidewalks and packing the city’s Green Strip park.
Doug Field said he came to demonstrate the difficulties of riding a Penny Farthing bicycle.
Throughout the parade he hopped on and off the towering seat, which his father bought in San Francisco 40 years ago, anticipating the usual questions that arise including, “How do you get on it? How do you get off it? Is it hard to ride?”
“It’s not an easy ride,” Field said after a pause. “It’s work.”
Field rode among a procession of antique cars and motorcycles, which made the day for festivities first-timer Caleb Litke. He and his family watched the show from the very end of the route, and it met his expectations.
“It is fun, and you get free candy,” he said.
It was the first time John and Marlene Dick and their son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Wendy Whitten, attended the parade as well.
“The turnout is great,” said Mike Whitten. “It’s great to see so many people.”
Sisters Isabella and Addison stayed to tour the game and food booths, said their father Anthony Harrilla, who was watching the girls with his wife, Brion Harrilla, while their daughters danced on a small stage with music provided by a DJ.
“We went to the parade to celebrate Independence Day, and show respect for the people who served and died for our country,” Harrilla said. “And the girls came for the candy.”
Colter Thomas also spent some time taking advantage of the free tunes. He said he busted out his signature steps the “Whip/Nae Nae,” a move made popular by artist Silento. He said he recently learned to do the dance so he could perform it for his school and it won him the position of class president.
“I just dance for fun,” Thomas said.
At 2 p.m. the stage was cleared for the Kenai Performers Cosplay costume contest, which winner Glynn Smith said he wasn’t expecting to enter that day when he showed up to help out at the Frozen Coast Live Action Role Play group’s booth, let alone take the title. He wore a full suit of armor, the chest plate of which alone cost $1,600.
His fellow Frozen Coast members Victor “Rosedoth” Hunter and Garrett “Lucion” Eady were practicing live-action role playing, where players use padded swords to learn to fight recreationally. The two were demonstrating what it is like to be a part of the group, which has now been active for four years and has grown from five to 45 members, Eady said. Setting up at local events help increase membership slowly but surely, he said.
For long-time attendees Chevelle and Shelby Gourley and their dad Chazz, the events this year were standard but fun and fulfilling as usual. Chazz Gourley said they had been coming since his oldest daughter Chevelle was a baby and that it has yet to disappoint.