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Wasilla was our objective for 4th of July festivities. Events started with a parade. No balloons, no bands, and just a few local-made float, but lots of families celebrating America. Our favorite was the senior center float, with elderly riders waving enthusiastically. Scouts, politicians, and local businesses threw candy to the eager children, who came prepared with large bags and backpacks to gather the loot. But the greatest enthusiasm was for the military units – everyone stood and cheered, unabashedly proud to be Americans. The fire department was the largest contingent, with many shiny new trucks, some squirting water to the kids chants of, “Spray it! Spray it!” (It must be nice to have that kind of revenue, when California is “browning out” individual stations because of budget problems.) The parade was followed by the mayor’s community picnic. There were free hot dogs, watermelon, and soda for all. Everyone enjoyed the sunny day. Babies were crawling in the grass, kids got their faces painted and participated in sack races and three-legged races. There was a watermelon eating contest and even a contest for singing the National Anthem (or other patriotic songs.) Little kids, old women – some could sing, some could not - but all brought tears and a real feeling of love of America. “God Bless the USA,” they sang; and they meant it. Kids, candy, and patriotism. All-in-all we decided we decided it was a real Norman Rockwell 4th of July.

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