Micanopy Fourth embodies ‘small-town USA’

An Uncle Sam character walks along the crowd line during the annual Independence Day parade and fish fry on Thursday in Micanopy.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.

Waving American flags slightly larger than a postcard in their tiny fists, children were lined up with their parents and grandparents along Cholokka Boulevard Thursday morning for the town of Micanopy’s annual Independence Day parade and fish fry.

While the little ones excitedly announced the next participant along the parade route with exclamations such as “Ooh, Smokey!” when the Division of Forestry’s tractor trailer, being driven by a man in a bear costume, passed by, locals said the parade is an annual tradition that is just as exciting for adults.

Sylvia Coleman of Gainesville said for more than 60 years she has traveled to the town, which takes up slightly over one square mile between Gainesville and Ocala, to attend the 4th of July celebration.

“This is small-town USA,” Coleman said over the noisy crowd. “Look at the smiles on everybody’s faces. This is a way to show respect for our country.”

The sun shone with the temperature in the high 80s as fire trucks, tractor trailers, horses and vintage cars traveled the parade route. They were being driven by men and women sometimes accompanied by excited children. One woman in the parade drove a tractor as her child slept on her lap through the excitement.

Little Miss Heart of the USA of Alachua County, Paige Praet, tossed candy into the crowd as her float strolled by. The parade seemed to go off without a hitch, although a slight rain shower began as the last trucks made their way down the boulevard.

Parade-goers immediately grabbed their folding chairs and at first looked as though they were heading home, but instead most of them walked to the Historical Society Museum for the start of the annual fish fry.

The shower was short-lived and soon the air filled with the smell of fried well-seasoned hush puppies, grouper and shrimp. Sweet potato fries and fried salmon strips were also among the options for the long line of hungry celebrators who came to the museum in anticipation of the Thrasher Warehouse Board’s famous fish fry.

The volunteer cooks had arrived at 8 a.m., nearly 4 hours before the line began to form.

Zack Williams, a worshipful master of the Micanopy Masonic Lodge No. 29, said his organization offers to cook for the fish fry because it helps raise money for the museum, an indirect way of helping to preserve the small town’s history. Another member of the organization and part owner of Northwest Seafood in Gainesville, Lee Deaderick supplied the seafood, which sold for $10 a plate for adults and $5 for children.

As the revelers collected their trays of food, the day’s festivities were only beginning. Micanopy’s Fourth of July celebration was set to continue from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with music, food and a bounce house for children at the Carson Roberts Sports Complex, then fireworks at dusk.

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