Volunteers power homegrown celebrations

Every year, groups of neighbors and volunteers band together to put on their own holiday celebration.

Some are carrying on a tradition that stretches back decades, and others just want to honor their veteran neighbors.

But in each case, volunteers are key.

In the town of Peoga, on the Johnson-Brown County line, an annual Fourth of July parade has been coordinated by volunteers since 1968. The event started when three Sunday school teachers from Mount Olive United Methodist Church organized a small parade with their students as an expression of patriotism and gratitude for the military during the Vietnam War.

Over the years, the event grew, earning it the nickname of “the biggest little parade in the world,” said Katherine Case, leader of the parade’s planning committee.

“It’s fantastic,” Case said. “It’s about a quarter of a mile run. We used to be able to get it done in 20 minutes, but now it’s still going at that point. Now, we even have to have the sheriff’s department out here for traffic control because we have a lot of the roads closed.”

Some of the favorite features of the parade are the floats from the town’s churches, classic cars owned by area residents and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office horse patrol.

Case, who took over the planning committee leader role in 2009, and assistant leader Judith Ann Johnson have a team of 10 volunteers. The week of the parade the planning committee meets each day to hang flags and red, white and blue streamers and balloons, Case said.

“I don’t have any trouble at all finding people to help out with the parade,” she said. “They look forward to it. They’re a fantastic group.”

In a Greenwood neighborhood, a more recent tradition has become a full community effort. The Reserve at Timber’s Edge subdivision is having its fifth annual Fourth of July parade this year. The parade started in 2011 as a tribute to the many veterans living in the 106-home subdivision and a way to celebrate patriotism, said Leigh Evans, Reserve at Timber’s Edge resident.

Residents bring out their classic cars and convertibles. Those who own instruments cobble together a marching band. And many of the veterans march in the parade.

Evans and his wife, Patty, dress up as President George Washington and Martha Washington every year and ride around in a convertible waving to the crowd.

“It’s a good time,” Leigh Evans said. “You can tell the older residents of the community especially enjoy it. They bring their grandkids to watch or participate. It’s just a fun way for us to celebrate the Fourth of July with our neighbors and honor the veterans in our community.”

If you go

Here is a look at this weekend’s Fourth of July events:

Today: Franklin Firecracker Festival, 6 to 10:30 p.m., Indiana Masonic Home, 690 State St., Franklin

Saturday: Peoga Parade, 2 p.m., County Road 250W and Peoga Road

Saturday: Edinburgh fireworks, 9:45 p.m., Edinburgh Sports Complex

Saturday: Downtown Freedom Blast, 9:30 p.m., downtown Indianapolis

Refer to web

Go online today to see photos at the Franklin Firecracker Festival.

We will be posting photos of all the fun on our website at dailyjournal.net and on our Facebook page.