BANGOR, Maine — Clear skies and summery temperatures drew a festive crowd to Bangor on Sunday for the annual Fourth of July parade.
By 10 a.m., Main Street was lined from the corner of Union Street to West Market Square with folding lawn chairs, strollers, dogs, families with young children, senior citizens and more. As the first police cars slowly rounded the corner off the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, with blue lights flashing and sirens whooping, the onlookers settled in to enjoy the spectacle.
April Erickson and her 6-year-old daughter, Lexie, had staked out a shady spot under an arching shrub across from the Union Street Brick Church. Recent transplants to Bangor from Southern California, where parades are flavored with slick Disneyland effects, the two said they were looking forward to a more homegrown event.
“I’m just looking for a really good parade,” Lexie said.
Sitting nearby were 7-year-old Hadley Seavey and her 3-year-old sister, MacLaine. The two girls live in New Jersey but are visiting their grandparents, Wayne Seavey and Donna McIntire, in Bangor. The sisters never had been to a parade before, said McIntire.
Asked what she expected from the Bangor parade, Hadley said she was looking forward to seeing some firetrucks.
“I am hoping to see a pony,” said MacLaine.
Farther down Main Street, taking shelter from the sun under the marquee of the Penobscot Theatre, brothers Cody and Jacob St. Louis of Glenburn came with their mother, Rhonda, to support a friend participating in the road race before the parade. They stayed to watch the parade itself.
“It’s just good to get out of the house and do something,” said 15-year-old Cody.
Friends Irving Cunningham and Judy Bailey, who live at the Freese’s housing facility over Bangor’s Discovery Museum, were hoping for a solid display of patriotism.
“This country is in such a condition,” said Cunningham.
Bailey, who sported a gauzy American flag tied around the strap of her pocketbook, said that a good parade “makes you cheer up a little. The way the economy is and everything, we all need something to feel good.”
The event did not disappoint. There were two well-mannered ponies, three horses, and quantities of shrieking firetrucks. Also clowns, motorcycles, belly dancers, Boy Scouts, veterans, muscle cars, politicians, cloggers, bomb squads, Tea Party members, Chinese dragons and more.
A somber military honor guard led off the procession, followed by a cadre of kilted bagpipers. U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and Rep. Michael Michaud marched by next, the first of many political incumbents and their challengers for national, state and local seats.
Military veterans, some marching on foot and others riding in buses, received appreciative applause from the crowd. Colonial re-enactors fired off their muskets, as startled babies in the crowd began to cry.
Many Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and their leaders marched in the parade, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scout organization.
Floats from the University of Maine featured promotions for wind energy and “bridge in a backpack” technologies developed by the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. There were lots of antique cars and trucks, lots of motorcycles, lots of powered-up cars and a customized “Kool Bus” school bus, complete with painted flames and an aerodynamic spoiler mounted on the roof.
The Bangor Band, the Anah Shrine Band, the Sebasticook Valley Community Band and a spirited steel drum band played from the back of flatbed trucks, keeping things lively.
The parade wrapped up at about 1 p.m.
Members of the Tea Party staged a rally in West Market Square immediately after the parade, which attracted about two dozen onlookers and participants.
The temperature reached 89 degrees at Bangor International Airport by 3 p.m. Sunday, according to a National Weather Service website.