Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Eyes on Arlington: July Fourth parade to show patriotic and community pride

2016 Arlington July Fourth parade grand marshal Molly Holler, left, with daughter Susan Holler.
2016 Arlington July Fourth parade grand marshal Molly Holler, left, with daughter Susan Holler. Courtesy photo

Before Monday morning rolls around, head to downtown Arlington to scout out your spot for watching the 51st edition of the July Fourth parade. The patriotic promenade steps off at 9 a.m., but you’ll need to arrive earlier to navigate the street closures and get situated for maximum parade enjoyment.

Said to be the largest parade in North Texas, the red, white and blue community favorite will have more than 150 entries passing by a crowd of at least 50,000 as Arlington dons its patriotic colors for the big day. Spectators will line the route, which begins at Mitchell and South West streets on the UTA campus and winds its way through UTA’s College Park and the downtown Arlington area.

“I love how the parade brings such a diverse community together. It’s really beautiful and sets a great standard for the younger generations who watch or participate,” said 4th of July Association President Roxanne Thalman.

Among the amazing floats, cheer and dance squads, scout groups, bands, marching groups, classic cars, horses and other colorful participants rolling along the 2-mile route will be some ultra-unique entries.

For example, there’s the entry created by Jesse’s Roofing Services — sure to be the first of its kind in 50 years of parades. Wanting to keep details under wraps until parade day, company owner Jesse Espino was reluctant to reveal much about his entry.

To avoid a spoiler alert but provide a clue about the entry, let’s just say it will represent a recent movement depicted in TV shows and news stories of people who want to live a tinier, simpler, greener life. Espino divulged that his entry will completely fill up a 28-foot trailer and will be 13  1/2 feet tall. The exterior will be wood siding painted navy blue, and a major component of the structure is a replica of the U. S. flag.

Espino’s company — established in 2001 — does roofing and remodeling and last year celebrated the achievement of finally moving into a brick-and-mortar building in central Arlington. This success led to becoming more active in the community including a decision to enter the parade.

“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to be in the parade. We entered last year and won second place in our category, but this year we are spending more time on it and hope it will impress both the crowd and the judges,” Espino said.

With a special place in his heart for those experiencing homelessness, particularly veterans who are homeless, Espino hopes his entry will create awareness that people don’t necessarily have to have a huge home to live happily and comfortably.

Jesse’s Roofing Service is inviting the community to get a close-up look at its entry after the parade back on the UTA parking area where the parade assembled. “People can pose for photos with it and see our plans for what the finished interior will eventually look like,” he said.

The all-volunteer 4th of July Association has chosen “America the Beautiful” as the parade theme and has dedicated the parade to “Those Who Keep Arlington Beautiful.” And who better than Arlington’s own guardian of nature, Molly Holler, to receive the extraordinary honor of being the parade grand marshal in a year with beautification as the theme?

Hollar, a longtime advocate for education about native plants and how they help in saving water, promoting wildlife and providing beauty, established the wildscape area at Veterans Park.

Arlington Conservation Council’s picturesque float will depict the beauty of nature with trees, herons and bald eagles all made from recycled materials. “We’ve been in the parade for many years, and we have fun working on our entry,” member Marian Hiler said. “The challenge of blending the council’s mission of protecting the environment and the parade theme really creates a creative challenge we enjoy.”

Peter Pann of Neverland will be prancing along the route with his owner Olivia Reynolds as he leads the North Texas Miniature Equestrian Driving Club. “We’ll have 16 miniature horses, and some of them pull a decorated miniature horse cart,” Reynolds said. “It’s our chance to show off the horses and have a good time.” The adorable little horses will be blinged out in red, white and blue glitter and are a surefire crowd-pleaser.

Speaking of miniatures, watch out for those zany World Famous Wheelie-ing Elvi darting from curb to curb on their miniature motorcycles and working the crowd into a frenzy. Elvis may have “left the building,” but his memory lives on with these guys.

If you want to find out which entry had the most spirit or which ones were most unique, walk on over to Knapp Heritage Park at 1 p.m. to enjoy some shade while watching the awards ceremony and cheering on your favorite groups. Learn more about the parade route, where the six announcer stands are located and other details at www.Arlington4th.org.

Celebrate July 3 at Light Up Arlington festival

Throngs of people will flock to downtown Arlington Sunday evening to enjoy the Light Up Arlington festival. Activities, live music, food and fireworks are all part of the action from 6 to 10:30 p.m. in the area stretching east to west from West Street to Mesquite Street and north to south from Main Street to Border Street.

The whole family will enjoy carnival concessions, food trucks and the spectacular fireworks display at 9:45 p.m. Kids will have a blast bouncing on inflatables, getting faces painted and temporary tats in the kids zone. They’ll love the animals in the petting zoo, and an adorable train will operate all evening giving the youngsters a fun ride.

“We are excited about this year’s Light Up Arlington,” said Michael Debrecht, whose park operations team heads up the event. “It’ll be the 10th annual show. It has been a great experience for me to see this grow from a small crowd of 2,500 at Lake Arlington in 2007 and now 60,000-plus people are watching the best fireworks show in the Metroplex.”

Besides the bands playing at the Levitt Pavilion, two other stages will have continuous entertainment.

Check out the acts playing on the Grease Monkey stage and then take the kids over to the Boomtown Stage to enjoy performances by Innovative Dance at 6:15 p.m. and a variety show called Young Stars and Guitars at 7:15 p.m.

At the Levitt, Hannah Kirby will do her show at 7:30 p.m. followed by the Brad Thompson Band at 8:45 p.m. Watch the fireworks at 9:45 p.m. and the band will resume after the crowd settles down from the breathtaking display in the sky.

Learn more at www.LightUpArlington.com or contact Debrecht at 817-459-5499.

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