A controversial appearance by a confederate soldier and a Confederate battle flag in last year’s Redmond Fourth of July Parade did not repeat this year. That’s because parade organizers forbid any flags or symbols other than American flags and those of the United States Armed Forces.
An estimated 5,000 people lined 6th Street in downtown Redmond to watch the Fourth of July Parade.
They were treated to the sights and sounds of 80 entries ranging from the Veterans of Foreign Wars to local politicians, organizations and businesses bedecked in patriotic colors, many throwing candy to children in the crowd.
“We used to have the veterans carry the flag. I carried the flag for a number of years down the street and lead the parade, but you got guys with pacemakers and bad knees and bad backs, 70-75 years old,” said Dennis Guthrie of VFW Post 4108.
Flag bearing duties are now the responsibility of Marine Corps JROTC members from Redmond.
Even Uncle Sam put in an appearance.
“Uncle Sam represents United States,” said SOT Joe Kosanovic in his 20th year of performing as Uncle Sam. “It started back when the butcher, Sam Wilson, started a tradition of delivering meat to the revolutionary soldiers. When he would stamp those barrels U.S., everybody would say, where’d you get that grub? That’s from Uncle Sam.”
The Redmond Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs to form a Fourth of July Parade Committee to help oversee and implement this year’s parade.
A ban on symbols, banners, flags or statements that be viewed as hateful, offensive or political were among the new rules for this year parade.
“Several people walked and checked each float, myself included,” said Eric Sande, Redmond Chamber of Commerce. “We looked at each one and made sure everything complied with our rules. We think everything was there and in compliance and we had a great parade.”
People’s Rights Oregon displayed a “Don’t Tread on Me,” flag that was first flown on an American warship in 1775 as a battle cry for American independence from British rule.
In recent years, the symbol has been adopted by conservative and libertarian groups, including the Tea Party in 2009 in their platform for small government and lower taxes.
“Freedom isn’t free. We get to say thank you to veterans and first responders who’ve worked really hard for the freedom we enjoy,” said Kim Meeder, Crystal Springs Youth Ranch. “This is a very small way of saying thank you.”
By chance, I interviewed members of Jeep Girls Connect local chapter, who ended up winning first place in the parade.
“I think it brings women together and our community. We support each other. We’re like a family,” said Carina Casabon.
There was talk of taking the Jeeps out for a spin somewhere in the dirt, after the parade.
Laughter, appreciation and excitement were the themes of this year’s Redmond Fourth of July Parade.
See our story below from last week about the flag restriction placed on this year’s parade.