By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Lafayette parties like it's 1776

Marcus Larson/News-Register##The Second Winds Band performs patriotic tunes in Joel Perkins Park during Lafayette s community Fourth of July celebration.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##The Second Winds Band performs patriotic tunes in Joel Perkins Park during Lafayette's community Fourth of July celebration.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Children of all ages on bicycles, scooters and other modes of transportation participate in Lafayette s fifth-annual Fourth of July Kids  Parade. A pancake breakfast and community picnic rounded out the day.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Children of all ages on bicycles, scooters and other modes of transportation participate in Lafayette's fifth-annual Fourth of July Kids' Parade. A pancake breakfast and community picnic rounded out the day.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Emory Rojas, 8 months, rides in her all-American push cart during the Lafayette Fourth of July parade. Mom Jessica Rojas accompanied Emory on the route from Wascher School to Joel Perkins Park.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Emory Rojas, 8 months, rides in her all-American push cart during the Lafayette Fourth of July parade. Mom Jessica Rojas accompanied Emory on the route from Wascher School to Joel Perkins Park.

LAFAYETTE — Hurrah for the red, white and blue! Those patriotic colors were out in force Monday as Lafayette children decked out their bikes and themselves for the community’s annual Independence Day parade. 

“This is the day America became a country of its own,” said Birdy Gettman, 11, thinking back 240 years to 1776.

At least 150 youngsters turned out for the parade celebrating the country’s birthday. Parents, extended family, other community members and even Uncle Sam joined them to walk in the parade, watch from the sidelines or take part in related activities. 

By parade time, some were stuffed with pancakes, thanks to the Lafayette Fire Department’s Fourth of July breakfast. Others were hungry for the community picnic that would follow at the end of the parade route — Joel Perkins Park.

Lafayette Community Church members cooked hot dogs for the picnic. The Second Winds Band played patriotic music in the background, starting with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” then moving on to marches.

Many residents stood quietly, hands over hearts, for the National Anthem. Earlier, just before the parade rolled out, they recited the Pledge to Allegiance as Mayor Chris Pagella and American Legion leader Juan Palacios raised the flag at Wascher Elementary School.

Nodding toward Palacios’ uniform, eighth-grader Ulices Pineda noted the Fourth of July is a day for honoring veterans, as well as celebrating America’s birthday.

Ulices is an old hand at parades, having ridden in the Lafayette event several times. This year, he brought his cousins, Andrea and Arturo Patino, so they could enjoy it, too.

“Andrea likes fun things,” he said.

Ulices helped Andrea arrange a patriotic headpiece made from red balloons, sparkly ribbons and small flags. Finally, he draped a red, white and blue lei around the fourth-grader’s neck.

Andrea was parade-ready.

At 11 a.m., a fire truck, siren screaming, lead the parade out of the school parking lot.

Bikes of all sizes, from those with training wheels to those with fancy gears, followed along. So did scooters and strollers of all descriptions, along with trikes, a motorized plastic dune buggy, a pink car propelled by a parent and other modes of transportation.

Most kids arrived at Wascher long before starting time in order to have enough time to decorate their rides. Parade organizers handed out bags of streamers, flags and patriotic ribbons.

“What a celebration!” said Angela Speier, who helped organize the event.

The mayor, dressed in patriotic Snoopy and Woodstock T-shirt, said the Independence Day event is always important to the community. “Especially for the kids,” he said.

As they pedaled along the parade route, children wore helmets, of course. The protective headgear came in all shapes and colors, from plain black to red, white and blue.

Some of the helmets were fanciful.

Elliana Vandecoevering, 7, showed off her unicorn helmet, complete with eyes, nose, mouth and horn. She added flags to the ears.

Once Elliana’s metallic orange bike was properly decorated with balloons, she helped friend Sofia Oliverios hang a flag banner onto Sofia’s handlebars. The girls are friends from Wascher, where they will be in third grade this fall.

Elliana’s mom, Kendra Perkins, said she had been looking forward to the Fourth of July parade almost as much as her daughter. 

“I grew up here and I remember riding in parades,” Perkins said.

She said she was happy to see Lafayette start the Independence Day tradition five years ago. She wishes the community would restart another annual tradition, Heritage Days.

Another first-time participant was Hudson McKibben, 3.

He chose his outfit carefully, donning a red shirt with blue Spiderman shoes and a red and blue Superman mask. His tiny balance bike was red and blue, too.

Hudson supervised while his mom, Kristine McKibben, wrapped crepe paper around the bike’s handlebars and added little flags.

“Cool!” Hudson said approvingly. “Mom makes it cool!”

Hudson rode the parade route proudly, his parents walking in his wake and pushing a stroller.

Someday Hudson will be teaching his little brother, Wyatt, how to ride in the parade. But that will be a few years from now, as Wyatt is only 3 weeks old.

Jaylinn Gettman, younger sibling of Birdy, pedaled the parade route in a Mohawk-style helmet on a bike with red and blue crepe paper laced through its wheels.

To Jaylinn, the parade is a big part of Independence Day. So are fireworks.

“And fun,” Jaylinn said. “Lots of fun!”

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