Tanglewood and Overton Park neighborhood associations hosted an Independence Day parade and gathering in an effort to bring together the community on a holiday.
The event is in its ninth year and continues to build on growth from years before, said Jennifer Smith, one of the coordinators of this year’s festivities. This year’s festivities included free donuts, ice cream and sno-cones in addition to the parade that spreads from Bellaire Drive to Ranch View Road.
Smith said the parade has done some rebuilding to get to where it is today. When the parade first began, it was much smaller than it is today.
“Under 50 people showed up, a few bikes, and a fire truck,” Smith said. “My husband bought the popsicles that year and we gave out bottled water.”
Only a few years ago, the event almost didn’t happen at all. The group didn’t have a permit for the parade and Smith said she called the city two weeks before the event to try to make sure the celebration could go on. Since then, the gathering has continued to grow into the community-building event that it is today.
“From there, it’s just grown into my favorite thing of the whole year.” Smith said. “We had, we think about 1500 pedestrians or kids on bikes [this year]”
She also said that the celebration helps bring people together who wouldn’t usually see each other.
“That’s the focus of the parade and I think that’s what makes ours different. It’s for children, for families to come, decorate your bikes, walk your dog, meet your neighbors,” Smith said. “I just think it’s a real glue that puts the thing together.”
Other members of the neighborhood, like Michael Newquist, agreed with Smith, saying that events such as this one help bring people in the neighborhood together.
“I think you get a chance to meet a lot of cool people.” Newquist said. “This is a great community event so everybody can shake hands and say hello to somebody.”