The Fourth of July is not just another day in La Porte. The day starts off for many, around 60,000 people to be specific, crowded along Lincolnway watching the La Porte Jaycees’ annual Fourth of July Parade. The parade, which hosts 120 groups, is one of the largest in Northwest Indiana. With hundreds of participants, tens of thousands of watchers, and statewide recognition it’s no wonder that La Porte takes such pride in their annual celebration.
“This is the 70th year for the Fourth of July parade and we’re just really excited to get to 70! After seven successful decades we hope we’ll continue to bring this parade to La Porte.” Joy Zigler, the 2016 Fourth of July Chairperson, stated. “Seeing the community come out in the tens of thousands is something that really makes us feel great and so appreciated. Today’s parade has been a tradition for so many and the Fourth of July has always been a great holiday for the city. We’re hoping that the craziness of this morning continues way into the future.”
Craziness is an appropriate word to describe the morning and events of the parade. The city has a 24-hour ordinance for reserving spots along the parade route - that there should be no blankets or chairs before then. Some even brought out couches to sit on to enjoy the parade at their usual spot.
The draw and popularity of the parade has even landed the city a special honor - La Porte has been designated as the Indiana state capitol for the day, which signifies the impact and influence the La Porte community has in recognizing the holiday. La Porte Mayor Blair Milo, who was a part of the parade, stated that the importance of the parade is not lost on the people that come out to watch or the ones who get to be a part of the big celebration.
“I’m always amazed by the mass of humanity that comes out to watch this - every year the parade seems to get bigger and better.” Milo stated. “It’s just great to see the people of La Porte come together to watch the parade, and also see the people who come from out of town to celebrate with us. This is the sort of thing that’s truly American. This is the apple pie and Motherhood representation of our country and community. This parade is something that makes me proud to watch and be a part of.”
Even through the hard work, massive crowds, and sometimes sticky weather, the parade is truly about honoring the holiday with La Porte. Debroah Whitacre, a resident of La Porte that has been attending the parade with over forty years,watched the parade with her kids and grandkids. Whitacre stated that she knew many of the people in the parade and waved to them as they passed by, which really drove home the sense of importance this parade has to their community.
“Every year coming to the parade just touches my heart, and being able to share this same experience that I had as a kid with my grandkids is huge.” Whitacre stated. “But also being able to see so many friends walking past is really great too, because it shows that there are so many great things to do and celebrate in La Porte. If they didn’t have this parade, I know there would be some disappointed people. It means a ton to everyone. A lot of us are already counting down to 2017’s parade!”
Though the parade wrapped up, and there’s another year until it comes back around, La Porte isn’t done celebrating the holiday yet. There is still a chance to see a fantastic fireworks show starting at 6 pm at the La Porte County Fairgrounds. There will be plenty food and entertainment as well - it’s a great way to finish off the holiday!