BANGOR, Maine — Revelers seemed optimistic during Bangor’s Fourth of July parade, as most seemed to have left their umbrellas at home in spite of the rainstorms looming just west of Bangor. Umbrellas were far outnumbered by American flags.
Antique cars, fire engines, clowns, a steel drum band, politicians and a club for Boston terrier owners made their way through Brewer and downtown Bangor. In all, about 1,200 people marched or rode in the parade, with thousands watching and waving along the route.
As a small group of World War II veterans processed down Main Street in Bangor, downtown resident William Hartley left the sidewalk, walked into the parade and shook hands with several of the elderly men.
When he walked back to the sidewalk, he said he went to greet the veterans because of his grandfather, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marines in the Pacific during WWII, who died two years ago.
He met several of the veterans in the parade during a medal ceremony recognizing his grandfather and wanted to thank them. He said he values their sacrifices.
With Hartley at the parade were his fiancee Christina Cessford of Nova Scotia and her three children. Cessford is in the midst of the lengthy process of becoming a U.S. citizen, an effort six years in the making.
She hopes to earn her citizenship soon so she can move to Maine with her children and get married to Hartley.
Farther down the parade route, a little girl shouted at a clown to come over and give her a high five. The clown’s glove squeaked on impact.
“I love clowns, I don’t know why people are scared of them,” she yelled to a friend.
Ominous clouds skirted west of Bangor for much of the morning leading up to the launch of the parade at 11 a.m. Still, people were lining up outside homes in Brewer and along downtown Bangor streets two hours before start time.
“I’ve seen them at 7 a.m. putting out lawn chairs,” said Tony Bernatche, organizer of the parade, which is organized with other July Fourth events through the Greater Bangor Fourth of July Corp. under Bangor Breakfast Kiwanis.
Prior to the start of the parade, Bernatche feigned confidence that the rain would hold off. He was mostly right, as just a couple brief showers darted through Bangor during the parade.
Organizers confirmed early Friday evening that they would go ahead with plans for a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. in spite of forecasted heavy rains. Many other Maine communities called off or postponed their July Fourth fireworks or parades because of the storms.
Bernatche said that wouldn’t happen in Bangor.
“I’m pretty sure these veterans didn’t take the day off at war when it was raining,” he said.
Once fireworks are prepared there’s no safe way to disassemble the launch sites until the fireworks are launched, Bernatche said.
“I’m having fireworks, you can come if you want to,” he said to tell area residents.
Greater Bangor Fourth of July Corp. has raised about $33,000 for this year’s events, roughly enough to break even, Bernatche said.
Anyone who would like to donate to Bangor’s Fourth of July efforts can still do so by visiting www.bangoronthefourth.com.