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Fourth of July parade, fireworks draw thousands to Bangor-Brewer

Posted July 04, 2011, at 3:42 p.m.
Last modified July 05, 2011, at 9:28 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor and Brewer saw a burst of patriotic pride Monday as thousands of people lined the streets of both cities to take in the sights and sounds of the annual Bangor-Brewer July Fourth parade.

Despite an iffy weather forecast, the sun shone brightly as the parade made its way from its starting point in Brewer and over the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge into Bangor. With temperatures in the 80s, vendors selling bottled water, ice cream and other cold treats were hotly sought after.

Although the skies were occasionally cloudy, most of the showers and storms predicted for the day did not materialize and the annual fireworks show over the Penobscot River went off without a hitch. The thousands who turned up to take in the show began arriving more than two hours before the fireworks’ 9:30 p.m. start time.

The notable exception was a brief but intense thunderstorm that blew through the area late in the afternoon. The storm interrupted a Waterfront Concert Series event that began at 2 p.m. with performances by local bands including Smells Like the Nineties, Restless Groove and Rock Revelation. The highlight was a laser light show and concert featuring The Machine, the world-renowned Pink Floyd tribute band that took the stage about 8 p.m.

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Among the crowd-pleasers at this year’s parade were antique vehicles, clowns, dancers, martial arts and cheering schools, and a variety of bands, ranging from bagpipe units to a group playing steel drums.

Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe were among the politicians who walked in the parade. While they were welcomed for the most part with polite applause, spectators saved their loudest cheering for the many veterans and military groups that participated.

Andrea Bozzino of Winterport, who watched with her husband, Frank, and three children, Frankie, 7, Parker, 10, and 2-year-old Tommy, said coming to the event was a tradition for her family. Asked what the children most looked forward to, Bozzino grew teary-eyed and said, “They really look forward to the veterans.”

Veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and the ongoing Global War on Terrorism were among the military groups that took part. Also on hand were representatives of the Maine Troop Greeters, who put Bangor International Airport in the world spotlight.

The Bozzino family has friends and family members who have — and are — serving the nation.

Patrick Schwarz of Bangor, known to some as Mongo, also went to the parade with members of his growing family — in this case, seven puppies born on July 1.

“They were almost Fourth of July puppies,” he said with a chuckle as a small crowd of children and parents crowded around to admire them.

The puppies are the offspring of his female Chihuahua and male Chihuahua-beagle mix. The older dogs and the modified baby jogger he was pushing them along in were decked out in red, white and blue flags and other accessories, including doggy sunglasses. The puppies were nestled on soft bedding in an aquarium.

Schwarz said he and his dogs attend every parade Bangor-Brewer has to offer. Parade routes are an easy walk from their downtown home.

Relative newcomers to Bangor-Brewer’s Independence Day scene were Lori and Jeff Gettler, who moved to Bangor last year from Richmond, Va. The couple stopped by to watch the parade after running in the 31st annual Walter Hunt Memorial Fourth of July Road Race, their second so far.

Jeff Gettler said the parade was fun to watch because it reflects a lot of what the community has to offer. Lori Gettler said she most enjoys the reactions of the crowds.

State, county and local police agencies said few major problems were reported in the early part of the Fourth of July.

By early evening, officers found themselves dealing with drunk people, fights and thefts, among other things.

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