Parades, fireworks and a COVID-free mindset marked the Fourth of July across the Dallas area, as the public celebrated the return of tradition amid the pandemic.
The morning events were full of vibrancy but following the deadly shooting near Chicago on Monday, some evening event-goers were uneasy.
The Associated Press reported that at least six people died and 30 were wounded in a shooting at a July Fourth parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. The shooter is still at large.
But despite uneasiness about the Illinois shooting just hours prior, Santiago Ybarra, his wife Amanda and their three children attended the festivities at Fair Park on Monday evening.
He and friends considered bringing firearms after the Chicago incident. Ybarra said even before the day’s tragedy, he worried about a public shooting.
“I could be anyone out here carrying a firearm, and you wouldn’t know,” he said. “Now, I’m just hesitant to go anywhere.”
While he is guarded, he doesn’t want to deny his kids the chance to make traditions.
“Tradition is kind of a dying thing,” he said. “[The kids] They don’t know what’s going on. As parents, we try to keep them away from everything going on. If something happens, I’m going to do what best I can to keep them safe. ”
The fair Park Fourth included family-friendly activities such as inflatable bounce houses, face painting, and animal-balloons. The free event also featured live music, a cooling station and a beer garden.
But many, like Ybarra’s family and friends, came for the fireworks show. They brought food, lawn chairs and blankets to spread out under the shade of a tree.
Cilf Fuqua also attended the Dallas event with Highland Park on his mind. While he has lived in North Texas for a decade, he is from Chicago and noted that “nothing like that” happens in that affluent suburb.
Fuqua wanted to celebrate the holiday with his wife Courtney, their daughter Aury, and friends because it is family tradition. He said mass shootings can’t stop the public from living life.
“If you let that stuff overcome you, these events will be things of the past,” he said. “All you can do is pray and hope that it will come to an end. It’s hard to understand shooting droves of people out here celebrating and having a good time. ”
Susana V. Quiambao has three favorite holidays: her birthday, Christmas and the Fourth of July.
The 66-year-old woman has attended every Sparks & Stripes: Independence Day Parade in Irving since 2010. Dressed in an American flag hat, shawl, and fanny pack, she stood on West Irving Boulevard to photograph floats, cars and people coming down the street on Monday morning.
As a Filipino-American who immigrated in 1986, this holiday is particularly important to celebrate.
“It’s really important to be an American,” Quiambao said. “This is the day of freedom.”
For others, this year symbolizes a return to normalcy after the coronavirus pandemic closed many festivals and events over the last two summers – including Irving’s parade.
COVID-19 changed so much, so the parade’s return brought back a much-missed familiar city comfort.
“It shows that not everything went away with the pandemic. We are still able to have traditions and keep them,” resident Wayne Turner said.
Turner and his wife –Irving’s municipal judge Laura Anderson –bring the family every year to cheer on the participants, collect goodies for the grandkids and remember Anderson’s mom, who was involved in the city parades and once sat on the parks board.
“It was important to her mom; it became important to her; and now, she is passing it on to generations,” Turner said.
As Turner and Anderson talked about the importance of the city’s Fourth of July parade, their granddaughter, 6-year-old Natalie Yakel, brought over collected candies, stickers and accessories to them.
“We see people we’ve known for years,” Anderson said. “It’s a happy day.”
The Duncanville Lions Club Independence Day parade was just as much a celebration of local community and history as it was a national holiday.
Sporting aviation sunglasses and a star spangled baseball cap, Luis Rivera Jr., 10, fired up the crowd all along the route as he enthusiastically shouted, “Hey everybody! Happy Fourth of July!” From a float adorned in red, white and blue ..
Once the crowd cheered back, the young rep of Soccer Plaza thanked them and yelled “Have a great day!” Only to tirelessly begin again and again as the parade twisted through the streets.
Michele Andrews, 51, brought her four year-old twins – Mya and Cooper – to Monday’s parade where they eagerly awaited along the route.
“It’s a big tradition,” Andrews said. “People come for the celebration and fireworks.”
Andrews’ family celebrates the Fourth annually with barbecues and get-togethers in between the morning parade and the fireworks show in the evening. Her son Cooper, said he was excited for the pyrotechnics and to collect “a lot of candy.”
He succeeded. Soon he and Mya’s hands were overflowing with chocolate and American flags.
The Duncanville High School band and the High Hats dance team led the procession as onlookers gathered in large crowds along the route. Motorcycle riders, antique cars and even a group of roller skaters followed.
Duncanville’s parade, like many others, was canceled in 2020 but returned in 2021.
Decked in the day’s colors, Gwenn Guthrie, 69, recalled how the festivities have changed over the years since she first attended in 1982. It’s gotten a bit smaller over the years, she said, but staples, such as the band and the antique cars , have remained constants.
“This thing has gone on for years, and it’s part of the Fourth of July,” Guthrie said.
Dallas Fire Rescue Sesquicentennial
At the Dallas Firefighters’ Museum, the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department celebrated a triply unique sesquicentennial anniversary.
The department commemorated its 150th year as well as the 50th anniversary of the museum and of the department’s EMS unit. Monday’s event recognized all three anniversaries as well as the Fourth of July with a block party event for the nearby community.
George Gamez, deputy chief of special operations for the department and chair of the anniversary board, said the Fourth of July is a busy and high alert time for all divisions due to the dangerous combination of fireworks and dry summer conditions. However, he said officials wanted to thank the generations of firefighters and other personnel from the department.
“It’s important that we took a moment to honor our history, culture and tradition,” he said.
Retirees, current staff and recruits attended Monday’s celebration as well as their families. The event featured food trucks and an opportunity to tour the museum –which features antique uniforms and fire-fighting tools –following a ceremony in the morning.
Amelia, 6, and Evelyn Kober, 3, took the opportunity to play on one of the old fire trucks on display while wearing red firefighter hats. Their father, Robert Kober is a full time paramedic with the department. It was the family’s first time visiting the museum.
Kober serves as part of the honor guard, which took part in the event’s ceremony. He was glad the group recognized those who served the city in the past.
“It’s a really special event,” he said. “We are really big on tradition.”