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The Town of Ashland boasted an abundant supply of stars, stripes, and patriotic pride at this year’s Fourth of July celebration and parade.
Since the parade’s founding in 1991, the Hanover Arts and Activities Center has continually hosted an event that celebrates America’s independence with a unique Ashland twist.
“It’s our way to give back to the community,” said Paige Christy, coordinator of the Fourth of July celebration and HAAC board member.
For the past 22 years, people have lined the sidewalks on the morning of July 4 hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclectic parade. The non-motorized procession consisted of multiple brigades including basset hounds, lawn chairs, roller derby girls, the Ashland children’s theater and bicycles, as well as the Japanese and Latin academies.
This beloved Independence Day tradition has been a town favorite since its creation and helps solidify Ashland’s small-town identity.
“When you think of small-town America, you think of Ashland, Virginia,” said Jonathan Gibson, lifelong resident of Ashland and parade spectator.
The celebration continued on the side of the tracks with food, games, music, and some friendly competition. While enjoying patriotic music by the Hanover Concert Band, attendees were able to indulge in a wide array of food from different vendors in the area as well as the raffled-off leftovers from the apple pie contest.
Two of the most eagerly awaited events of the day were the apple pie contest and the patriotic pet contest, where competitors were challenged to let their patriotism shine in the form of food or four-legged friend. Annette Ilowiecki, of Beaverdam, took first place for her award-worthy apple pie. The winner in the children’s category was 11-year-old Lucy Lynn, of Ashland. The patriotic pets were not in short supply with canines of all breeds showing up wearing red, white and blue.
At the end of the day, the HAAC could say it successfully hosted another incomparable Fourth of July celebration that highlighted Ashland’s small town charm while celebrating America’s independence.
“There is no other place like the Center of the Universe,” said Christy, when summing up the excitement of the day.