Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day in Independence, VA

For obvious reasons, this seemed like the place to be today. We had been to Independence (about 45 miles southwest of Wytheville via I-77 and Route 58) for the jam session a couple of days ago, so we knew that we wanted a spot by the courthouse to view the parade which started at 10:00. We arrived at 9:30 and were caught in a line of cars entering town. We parked at the first large parking lot and walked about half a mile to the courthouse where a large crowd had already assembled.

This old courthouse was celebrating its 100th anniversary, and it's pretty amazing that it made it to this date. It seems that in the early 80's there was a move to tear it down now that the county had a new (boxy, sterile) courthouse. But some dedicated souls fought to preserve it, even going so far as joining hands to form a circle around the courthouse to prevent the start of demolition. In an effort to make it someone else's problem, the county government accepted sealed bids on the building. A local businessman, Dan Baldwin, bought it for $110,000 and then donated it to a nonprofit foundation.

The interior featured a lot of ornate woodwork and spiral staircases at each corner. The exterior formed the backdrop for many of the parade photos we took this morning.
It was a typical small town parade--full of meaning to the residents, simple floats with a message from churches, veterans' groups, and social groups. But I think it was a parade to say "Thanks" to people who put their lives on the line or who save lives every day, the members of the military, fire fighters, police, and rescue squad members.

I will just show some photos of the people and the parade. Some of these have a personal meaning to our friends or members of my family, some show people, and then, well, you'll see. . . .
The parade featured over 100 entries, but many of these were vehicles (fire departments, rescue squads, antique cars, and tractors).
However, there were also some unusual vehicles, used by independent entrepreneurs of the early 1900's.

We left Independence after lunch and traveled about 16 miles east on Route 58 to Galax for their parade at 4:00. We arrived at 2:00, and Kate said, "Are you sure there is a parade today?" Not "Are you sure about the time." There was no one, absolutely no one on Main Street. Only when we saw the signs "No Parking. Parade Route" did we have any idea that there would actually be a parade today. By 4:00 the streets were lined with people but the groups were not very deep. Even though Galax is a more populous town, the crowd was smaller. Again, I will just show some of the people at this parade.

We quickly realized that the towns seemed to have coordinated their parade schedules because many of the vehicles we saw in Independence had traveled to Galax for the parade. Both towns had a sizeable parade because of this coordination.

After dinner, we walked around the block to the Rex Theater, a restored 375-seat theater, for a bluecrass concert by the group called "Floyd County."

The group consisted of five performers from Floyd County (the neighboring county) who joined together for the evening's performance. The fact that the bluegrass band had no banjo convinced us that they were put together simply for this holiday weekend concert. The performance was taped and will be aired on a local radio station next week.

The Adler Report on today's meals will appear tomorrow.

1 comment:

Fran & Jim said...

We were thinking about you yesterday - we remembered that you'd be celebrating Independence Day in Independence!

Fran & Jimmy