FORTVILLE — Katie Miles spent all day Saturday preparing for the parade that ran through downtown Fortville.
The 4-year-old was up at 7 a.m. digging through drawers of decorations, searching for ribbons and bows to attach to her tricycle, said her mother, Kayla Robbins. By noon — more than five hours before the start of the parade — the bike was barely recognizable beneath layers of red, white and blue streamers taped to the handlebars and frame wherever Katie could find space, Robbins said.
“I’m just worried about how long it’ll take to clear all that off,” Robbins said with a laugh.
The toddler’s enthusiasm was just a sampling of the spirit on display at the town’s festival, which included a dazzling fireworks display after dusk.
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Participants of all shapes and sizes took part in the parade. Representatives from the town’s police and fire departments delighted spectators, who crowded along the edges of local streets to cheer on the caravan.
Three members of the local American Legion marched the route, which began at Landmark Park and laced through local roads before ending back where it began.
Even the town’s iconic statue depicting a bespectacled pink elephant sipping a martini, which is usually planted firmly in front of a local liquor store, was part of the parade. Employees from Dixon Construction, a local business, towed the statue along the route.
A small grouping of mini horses, led by young 4-H’ers, also graced the parade, along with more than 100 local children, said Nancy Strickland, executive director of the Fortville-McCordsville Chamber of Commerce, who organized the event.
Jacob Maloy, 9, of nearby Ingalls waved his arms at passing parade vehicles, scooping up suckers, jawbreakers and other sweets, stuffing handfuls of the candies into his jean pockets.
Food and clothing vendors from across the region set up along School Street beside the park. Residents filed up and down the street, choosing from a range of festival foods, from nachos and hot dogs to cupcakes and lemon shake-ups.
Fred Williams of Fortville said the festival provided a chance for neighbors to get together and socialize, all the while paying tribute to the nation’s heritage.
Williams, who formerly served in the U.S. Marines, said while the holiday presents a time for celebration, it’s also one of remembrance.
“We can’t ever lose sight of our history,” he said.
Following the parade, festival-goers roamed along Main Street in downtown Fortville, shopping around in local businesses along the thoroughfare.
At dusk, families spread blankets across the lawn at Landmark Park in anticipation of the evening’s fireworks display.
Kids crowded the sidewalks, lighting sparklers and swiping them through the air, leaving bright trails glowing behind the burning embers.
A fireworks display began at dusk in front of a backdrop of soft pink clouds, aglow from the day’s final rays of sunshine.
As the light faded, crowds craned their necks toward the sky, soaking in the show, which lasted a little less than 30 minutes.
A chorus of cheers erupted from the crowd as shells burst in the sky with a thud, casting bright flashes of light across the faces of festival-goers. After the show concluded, clouds of smoke lingered as families filed back to their homes, a remnant of the night’s festivities.