Smyrna-Clayton residents ‘proud to be Americans’

Smyrna Citizens’ Hose company queens for 2018 riding in station 44’s convertible for the 4th of July parade. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

SMYRNA — The close-knit Smyrna-Clayton community clearly loves its parade.

Despite rising heat soon reaching nearly 90 degrees with little breeze or shade available Wednesday morning, folks settled into spots along North Main Street an hour before the annual Fourth of July march commenced.

When the head of the lineup arrived at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue about 9:40 a.m. little sitting room could be found.

Nearly 90 minutes later, there was seemingly no end in sight to parade participants as the northern Kent County community celebrated its 250th anniversary.

While a few attendees (predominately parents with infants) began to leave before the event was completed, most stayed for the duration,

If the country is affected by an ongoing political divide, it certainly wasn’t evident for at least a few hours Wednesday.

“Even through all the turmoil I feel like we’re all proud to be Americans on a day like this,” Brittany Cole said.

“Although we might not all agree on what’s going on in the country we all choose to be here and live together, and this shows that we can still come together.”

Citizens’ Hose Company marching band performing along the parade route Wednesday for thousands of spectators. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Ms. Cole was joined by husband O.J. and their two daughters ages 5 and 3. Mr. Cole said he wanted his children to “understand the history of our country and how we all came to be here.

“I want them to start thinking about independence and understand that at the end of the day we’re still all Americans even if there are some things we would like to see change.”

Groups of attendees arrived as family units, carrying American flags and wearing short sleeve red, white and blue shirts with slogans such as “Land of the Free”, “United We Stand”, “9/11 Never Forget” and “America – Built on Freedom” along with simple “USA” and “Liberty.”

Shady areas were in high demand for people watching Wednesday’s parade in Smyrna. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Elected officials and candidates, fire companies, police, marching bands, churches, Boys Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little Lass Softball, car dealerships, musicians, military veterans and more passed by thousands along the route, performing, tossing candy, passing out cards and receiving applause.

Familiarity was evident as folks shared hugs and greetings throughout the morning.

“Our community here is family,” said lifelong resident Niya K. Bolden, who was joined by 16 family members and employees marching to support patriotism and her Kee’s Cookies and Cupcakes small business in Clayton.

“It does not matter how old or young you area, it’s all family, it’s all the Smyrna-Clayton community.”

One man who opted not to give his name while soaking in the atmosphere described himself as “not from here. I just walked up and didn’t expect all this. This is really a big deal.”

Family ties drew Milford resident Charles Hammond to the parade and the “die hard Marine” and Vietnam War veteran received several salutes, handshakes and “thank yous” for his service to country.

“A parade like this is a reminder that we fought and died to make freedom for everyone so that we could have freedom of expression,” Mr. Hammond said. “Some people don’t realize that and that’s not something that’s available in other countries so we should all appreciate it here.”

According to Patty Seeman, “it’s not the Fourth of July unless you see a parade and my husband doesn’t go to the beach.”

Ms. Seeman said she planned to travel south to Dover later in the day to watch the fireworks display with her parents.

Former Smyrna resident Lydia Reed, who now resides in Dover, enjoyed returning to the community because “I still like Smyrna. The people for some reason are more friendly than Dover. You have easy access to everything here —

the parades, Lake Como, everything.”

Ms. Reed described celebrating the Fourth of July as “very meaningful because of our British roots. Without that we never would have become Americans in the first place so this is kind of a tribute to how we all got here.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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