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Legion's July 4th Parade a huge success

July 11, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Arriving early for the July 4 parade, islanders lined both sides of Stringfellow Road from Winn Dixie to the four corners before 9 a.m. By 10 a.m., the Center was packed with people.

"There are more people here today than I've ever seen before," Fire Chief Ben Mickuleit said. "There are a lot more kids than before - it's a great day for a parade."

The parade started precisely at 10 a.m. with Lee County EMTs leading the way with the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Department following close behind with sirens and horns blasting.

Article Photos

The American Legion float won first place.


This year's Grand Marshall, Beacon of HOPE Executive Director Betsy Haesemeyer, waved to the crowd from the department's huge brush truck.

"I'm pretty sure we have more of everything this year," former American Legion Commander Tom Lewis said. "There's more floats, more motorcycles and more of everything. This parade always draws a large crowd and it's not super hot today so that helps."

Carrying the American flag, Rick Alvarez led the American Legion Post 136 Color Guard as the American Legion float passed by.

"This is the 16th year that the American Legion has sponsored the parade," new Commander Bob Miner said. "This holiday means a lot to me, and judging from the turnout, it means a lot to the people of Pine Island."

This year the parade included antique cars; floats from the island churches, businesses and chartable organizations; Boy Scouts; and riding lawn mowers. At the end of the parade, there were horses and small ponies.

The nearly 1-hour parade wound down just before 11 a.m. as the last float turned left on Pine Island Road to the Fire House. Afterward everyone went to the Pine Island Elks for hot dogs and hamburgers.

"My family and I try to attend every year," Barbara Nash said. "I think they used to start this later in the morning, but I think the 10 a.m. start brings more people out. It certainly looks like it."

In spite of the rain, the annual fire works show at the American Legion took place later that evening.

"The American Legion is very proud to host this parade," Lewis said. "This is a great event where American citizens, families and children can come together and celebrate our freedoms and independence."



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