Patriotism on parade in Smyrna and Clayton

CLAYTON — With Independence Day festivities postponed across the state due to weather, residents of Smyrna and Clayton lucked out Monday with their parade scheduled before threatening conditions rolled in.

By 9 a.m., the sidewalks were lined and porches were filled with spectators trying to get the best seats for the hour-and-a-half long parade under overcast skies.

Four generations of the Sweider family camped out on the porch of their historical Main Street home for the parade which dates back to the late 19th century.

(Special to The Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

(Special to The Delaware State News/Doug Curran)

“We’ve been watching from this spot every year since we moved here about 20 years ago,” Dan Sweider said. “Everyone always looks forward to the parade.”

Those who didn’t live right on Main Street took advantages of the spots local businesses like the Young Bean had to offer.

With a line that extended from the register to the door, patrons lingered or sat on the cafe’s patio, java in hand.

“We were just talking about what a nice spot this is and how comfortable the chairs are,” said Irene Simpson, a Smyrna resident watching the parade from the porch of the Young Bean with a friend.

Uncle Sam passes out candy.

Uncle Sam passes out candy.

Ms. Simpson has been coming to the Smyrna Clayton parade every year for the past 40 years.

“I know the parade’s been going on for quite a while now, but I’m not old enough to have been to every one,” she joked. “But coming to the parade is definitely a tradition for anyone who lives here.”

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Despite having the longest running Fourth of July parade in the state, there were few signs of the event’s colonial roots with politicians of every kind walking the route, running for positions in the 2016 election ranging from town council to governor.

But there were classic parade staples like classic cars, fire trucks and the Citizens’ Hose Company Band. A special guest to the parade was the Germany-based Musikzug Starkenberg Heppenheim Band.

Even as the German band snaked down main street in unusual marching patterns, onlookers waved American flags, seemingly having forgotten the vandalism the town faced last week when 42 flags were destroyed on Carter Road in Smyrna.

“It really is such a shame,” Ms. Simpson said. “The flags are a fundraiser for the town and my daughter buys them for every holiday. I can’t imagine why anyone would do something like that.”

Nonetheless, flags were waved Monday and yards along the parade course remained lined with flags that made it through the vandalism unscathed.

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