A local legacy: Fourth of July brings one of Vicksburg’s best annual traditions

Published 9:43 am Monday, July 8, 2024

Growing up in Vicksburg, one of my favorite annual traditions has always been the Fourth of July bike parade around Glenwood Circle Park. 

Every year, I would dress up in red, white, and blue, and cover myself from head to toe in whatever festive decorations I could get my little hands on. I remember riding around on a streamer-covered tricycle one year and a star-spangled Barbie jeep the next. My mother has framed pictures of me at six–weeks-old, riding around Glenwood Circle in a red, white and blue stroller.

Now that I’m an adult, the parade is a different, albeit still enjoyable, experience. Instead of a child riding around on whatever set of wheels was appropriate for my age, I’m a young adult. I’m trying to wrangle two furry, four-legged “children” while standing around and talking to parents over ice cream and diet coke. All the while, I’m drenched in sweat, wondering when I get to retreat into the sweet comfort of air conditioning.

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Even though I’m no longer one of the kids running around the park, the parade still holds a special place in my heart. I’ve always been the sentimental type, and I find there’s just something poetic about seeing these kids running around and celebrating the Fourth of July the same way I did growing up in the 2000s. Probably the most magical part of the event is seeing a baby being rolled around in a streamer-covered stroller and thinking back to my mom’s pictures of a tiny, sleeping Allie being rolled around the park. It’s all of the little things that really make you think, “everything has really come full circle.” The bike parade is pretty much the same as it was almost two decades ago.

One specific memory that my family laughs about every time the parade is brought up is the year I repeatedly ran over the curb in my Barbie jeep. I was probably four years old, and I refused to turn the wheel. Wherever that vehicle was headed was where I was going. Nothing, and nobody, could stand in the way of that little star-spangled pink jeep. Fortunately, I don’t think anybody was permanently maimed by the patriotic joy ride of an unlicensed preschooler.

When I look at the future of the kids in this city, I can only hope that anyone coming after me will take as much joy from this parade as I have over the years, whether it be children, parents, grandparents, or even just people from around the neighborhood who don’t have any direct connections to the parade. This is an event that can be enjoyed by anyone. It’s about the kids. It’s about the community. It’s about coming together to celebrate as one big family. This is an event that teaches kids about community spirit and the importance of coming together to celebrate the history of this country. As I watch these kids grow, I hope  they carry forward the same appreciation for this tradition that I do. It isn’t just a parade. It’s a legacy.