Steamy morning doesn’t deter parade-goers

Thousands of people lined the streets in Butler County communities for their annual Fourth of July parades despite the sweltering temperatures,

And nearly every unit in the local parades worked up a sweat as they followed their routes Wednesday.

Many people in Middletown, Hamilton and Monroe arrived early to stake out their spots — and spots with shade, whether it was under trees or under building awnings that blocked the bright, hot sun, were at a premium.

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“I got here at 9:30 (a.m.) to get a shaded spot,” said Rhonda Sowder of Middletown. “They were just starting to block off the streets when we got here.”

Sowder, her niece, great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews were under the trees near the Middletown Arts Center on North Verity Parkway to watch the parade that featured about 50 units from the community.

The theme of Middletown’s parade was “Peace Through Strength,” and it took a lot of strength and water to make it through the parade route that started at Woodside Cemetery.

To help keep people hydrated, some churches were passing out bottles of cold water along the parade route in Middletown and Monroe, while there were parade units squirting and misting parade-goers — which was the case in Hamilton — with water to help keep them cool.

The Middletown parade’s grand marshal was Jeffery Wilder, a local scout leader in the community. The parade organizers presented awards to several organizations for their units.

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“It’s a good parade,” said Brian Hickle of Trenton. He and his family arrived about 15 minutes before the parade started with chairs and a large umbrella to their spot near the Middletown City Building.

“It would have been nicer if it was a little bit cooler,” but you can’t do nothing about that,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Middletown’s fireworks show was scheduled as part of the Broad Street Blast event planned for Smith Park.

Monroe’s parade went down Macready Avenue to Elm Street to Main Street and ended at Community Park where the Light Up the Sky event was being held Wednesday night.

Many people were also looking for some shady spots to place their chairs or blankets along the route. The parade featured Madison Smallwood, an 11-year-old who is continuing her fight with cancer.

One resident, Shawn Smith said the parade was good, but he missed the Monroe High School Marching Band playing their music.

“I like it,” Smith said. “I come every year, and I love the small-town feel of it.”

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As she was leaving her spot in front of the Monroe Primary School, Sandi Montgomery said she thought the parade was “great.” Montgomery said the grand marshal selection was very deserving.

“For a small town, it was wonderful and it made the town proud,” she said.

This year's Hamilton's Independence Day parade, and the following patriotic program, celebrated the city's 17 community neighborhoods. The grand marshals were the city's volunteers of the year, Troy and Kathy Schwable.

But parade-goers were particularly pleased with the local marching bands. In fact, that’s what drew a lot of the people to the parade. There were five area high school marching bands in the parade that saw 100 entries.

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Michelle Dowers, of Fairfield, and her son, Brandon, 14, were there for the Fairfield marching band.

“I have my son who’s with the Fairfield marching band coming through the parade,” Dowers said, which was her third year watching the parade. “The band’s the best, but I like the whole thing.”

Many folks said “freedom” is what they think about the most when it comes to the Fourth of July.

Brandon said for him, “It just means a family to get together and to think about how our Founding Fathers got America free for us.”

Henry Lykins, of Somerville, came to his first Hamilton parade because his granddaughter is in the Madison marching band. Today is for “honoring our great nation, for all that we are blessed with to be able to live here.”

“It’s just an honor for us to be in a great nation like this.”

Maria Smith, of Hamilton — a former Fairfield marching band member — said as she watches her seventh Hamilton parade, Independence Day “means fun and that our country is free no matter what.”