In a scene reminiscent of a Hallmark Channel movie, a large American flag was unfurled from a massive crane Monday morning in downtown Modesto, set against the backdrop of the historic Modesto Arch.
Meanwhile, public safety personnel and veterans saluted, onlookers stood with their hands on their hearts, and a singer performed a stirring rendition of the national anthem.
Such was the scene for the city’s 142nd Independence Day Parade, under the fitting theme “United We Stand.” Thousands of attendees lined the parade route, taking in the sights of marching bands, colorful floats, clowns, vintage cars and creative displays.
Organized by the Modesto Kiwanis Club, the parade theme took on special significance to the many veterans in attendance. Modesto-area veterans from American Legion Post 74 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3199 led the parade, which kicked off at 9:30 a.m. near 10th and F streets.
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Gary Bonar, chaplain of American Legion Post 74 and head of the honor guard, said he was happy to see the stellar level of support shown by the community for veterans in attendance. “It’s just an honor for us; we’ve been leading (the parade) for a number of years now, and we appreciate it,” Bonar said.
Dale Wild, a Navy veteran of 21 years, came dressed for the occasion wearing his uniform and medals. “I am proud of this,” said Wild, who has attended the parade for the past 15 years.
John Field, the event’s entry stage chairman, said this year’s parade had 108 entries, which included six horse groups and six car clubs. “We’re going to keep it going, and hopefully we make it to 200,” Field said.
There was no shortage of cartoon and movie characters walking the streets for the parade. Frank Serna, 39 of Ceres was dressed as a Jedi Master from “Star Wars” and daughter Leilani Serna, 11, was dressed as his Padawan. Father and daughter marched in the Modesto parade with a group from Central Valley Costumers. Others in the group were dressed as Deadpool, SpongeBob and Star-Lord from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” among other characters.
“It’s great to see all of these good-looking people here today,” said Frank Serna.
Serna wasn’t the only one who made a special effort to stand out during Monday’s parade. Wearing green spray-painted hair, white face makeup and a purple suit, Dylan Vargas, 24, came dressed as Joker from the “Batman” comics. Vargas said Monday was his third time dressing as the Joker for a parade. “Who doesn’t like the Joker?” Vargas laughed, waving to celebrants lining the parade route. “Well, maybe not Batman.”
Monday’s parade was followed by a festival at Tenth Street Plaza.
Victor A. Patton: email@example.com