Facebook Twitter

Fab Fourth

PROVO — About 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, Andrea and Raylene Hernandez finally fell asleep on the sidewalk.

The sisters had been camping out for the Grand Parade at Provo's Freedom Festival since 1 a.m. The TV that got them through the night was playing the final scenes of Disney's "Tarzan" as the sun began to rise. And still they slept.

Andrea, 9, and Raylene, 18, were two of the approximately 200,000 people who lined Provo streets today to watch the annual Independence Day Parade.

The parade featured more than 100 entries, including everything from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to hot air balloons. Dignitaries like Gov. Mike Leavitt and Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both R-Utah, also cruised the parade route and offered their support.

The parade was the biggest of numerous Fourth of July celebrations across the state.

In Park City, the festivities featured "everything — everything," according to a volunteer at the city's Chamber of Commerce.

The parade, which has been running down Park City streets for almost 20 years, boasted 92 entrants this year, ranging from a variety of musical bands to a flyover by an F-16 from Hill Air Force Base.

In Provo, the floats entered in the parade took weeks, some even months to complete. At 6:45 a.m. the Alpine LDS Stake was putting the final touches on its float, "The Land of Milk and Honey."

"We decided to call it that because this is the land of opportunity," Camile Morris said.

As her husband hoisted a plastic foam cow on the front of the float, her son, Caleb, dressed like a bee, buzzed around the float on a scooter.

He was practicing for his part in the parade: to circle the float with nine other bees while two beekeepers chased him.

This was Caleb's first parade, but for the royalty of Spanish Fork, parades are becoming sort of routine. All of the waving and smiling takes its toll.

"I think they can get kind of boring, but if you have little kids to wave to, it's fun," said Miss Spanish Fork, Jessica Tuckett.

Jessica said she and her court have been doing a parade almost every week since June.

About 100 yards away, members of Bikers Against Child Abuse were getting instructions from parade chief Mark Stoddard.

"I want you guys to wake everybody up. Make some noise."

The bikers came on their Harleys from as far as Richfield to do just that. The biker group was the first entry in the pre-parade.

"This is the first time we're here because I guess the old mayor didn't like Harleys," said Dale Hill, Richfield.

After Stoddard motivated the Harley riders, he hustled over to a group of volunteers to offer another pep talk.

"We're bound and determined to put on a good parade," Stoddard said. "Planning for next year's parade begins tomorrow."

Which is why people rise so early to see Utah's biggest Independence Day Parade.

By 9 a.m. the Hernandez sisters had turned off their TV and had finished half a box of doughnuts.

"This is out of control," said their mom, Ellen, as she rose to salute the flag. "We were up at 3 in the morning, and it was like a big party. This is the last year we're doing this."

Then she began to talk about last year's parade and the movies she watched with her daughters last night. Something says she'll probably be back.


E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com