TUSAYAN — Cute kids on bikes, fire departments fighting with hoses and enjoying a burger while listening to the Blue Moon Band were all part of this year’s Fourth of July celebration in Tusayan.
Two young entrants in the Fourth of July parade make their way down the route. The bicycle decorating contest was a new event this year.
In one of the biggest community events of the year, hundreds lined both sides of State Route 64 at noon Wednesday for the annual parade, organized by the Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. Thunderstorms threatened but held off and the parade started a little late. The consensus afterward was that the parade was better than ever this year.
Greg Bryan, Chamber of Commerce president, offered a big thanks to the community for their participation in the holiday events, which included the barbecue and auction to raise funds for chamber projects.
The bicycle decorating contest was new to the parade this year and there wasn’t a bad turnout when it came to participants, including the excited little blond girl pedaling her Big Wheel down the route.
Scott Olsen won a new bicycle for winning the contest. Olsen went to a lot of work on his bicycle entry, which included a large American flag to commemorate the Fourth of July.
The water fights were not as intense this year. Super Soakers and water balloons went out into onlookers alongside the route, but the big fight came between fire departments. Robbie Evans, fire chief of the Tusayan contingent, hosed the parade entries from his own department, Valle-Wood and the National Park Service when they rolled through his war zone.
Area businesses and organizations went to a lot of work on their floats. Familiar faces could be seen along with a few new groups. The American Legion led the way with its flag corps. And as always, kids along the route scrambled after candy being thrown to the side of the road.
Ray Vernon was the grand marshal, riding atop the Rescue 5 emergency truck. Vernon first came to Grand Canyon a year ago and one of the first community events he took in was the Fourth of July parade. Twelve short months later, he found himself riding down the route.
Afterward, the community barbecue was staged at the Tusayan Fire Department. Volunteers, including firefighters and paramedics, jumped in to cook burgers and serve up food. It was a big draw with the line getting fairly long for about an hour.
John Rueter and the Blue Moon Band entertained the community on a stage set up in front of the station. Ron Clayton was entertaining as well with his skills as an auctioneer. The longtime Grand Canyon mule wrangler always finds way to bring in those extra bucks for the benefit of the community.
The Grand Canyon American Legion’s John Ivens Post No. 42 was on hand with free water on a hot day. The post distributed information to area residents interested in joining the organization.
Three days later in Valle, area residents enjoyed fireworks, dance, raffle and rummage sale at Flintstones Village. The Valle-Wood Volunteer Fire Department shot off the fireworks as one of its big fund-raisers of the year.