With the green light to start, a healthy line of patriotic pre-schoolers and adolescents took to the large roundabout outside Patrick Beaver Memorial Library in Hickory ready to ride.
Hoisted up on bikes, tricycles, big wheels and strollers, the cluster of about 50 children produced a sea of red, white and blue that floated slowly down the narrow street connecting different portions of the SALT block off of N.C. 127.
As they moved around the roundabout, everything they wore screamed America. Helmets, capes, T-shirts and even custom-made sunglasses were but some of the apparel sported by the young ones Friday at the annual Fourth of July celebration at the library.
The children’s bike parade is the hub of the celebration, with kids all vying for the top prize in the categories of best baby carriage, tricycle, wagon, big wheel, scooter and bicycle.
Meg Sandner, of the library’s children’s department, said the Independence Day event will increase children’s involvement with the library.
“They are going to associate the library as a fun place,” Sandner said.
“They come here to play, but they are exposed to the books in the process.”
Sandner said the library puts on numerous programs throughout the year to get children interested in the library — programs that help the library compete with the kids’ growing involvement with electronic media.
“People come to our events and go out with bags full of books,” Sandner said. “They just want to keep coming back for more.”
Jennifer Whipple has come to the parade for the past two years. This year, she brought her daughter Campbell and son Brett.
“The event is really exciting, and it's nice being part of a community event,” Whipple said, adding that she tries to get her family involved in community events as much as possible.
Library Director Mary Sizemore said the event has become a tradition for the community. The library did not hold the July 4 parade a couple of years ago, but a lot of citizens pleaded for the event to return, Sizemore said.
In addition to the parade, children participated in a sing-a-long of patriotic songs, visited with members of the Hickory Fire Department and could eat hot dogs and lunch that could be purchased on site.
“It’s a nice hometown event for families and children,” Sizemore said.
“Hickory doesn’t have a Fourth of July parade like a lot of cities, so this is it for the kids.”