Parade boasts record numbers

Howland Community News / Emily Earnhart David Luther of American Legion Post 700 in Howland and Kira Bowman, 17, of Mathews High School and a Legion-sponsored Buckeye Girls State representative, show festival attendees how to properly fold an American flag at the July 4 celebration on the lawn at Howland High School.

HOWLAND — Thousands of area residents gathered for a parade along Market Street in Howland Township Tuesday, celebrating an annual tradition by spending time with family, friends and neighbors.

Officials were calling the turnout for Tuesday’s annual July 4 parade and celebration the largest in township history.

Public officials, veterans and service personnel, dancers and athletes and other participants made up more than 100 units in the parade that took nearly two hours to complete the route from Pheasant Run to Shaffer Drive.

Howland’s Independence Day festivities were among more than a dozen that have taken place locally throughout the weekend.

Howland Township Administrator Darlene St. George said she understands local families often want to stay near home, and other residents plan or reschedule vacations so they can attend the holiday events.

“What I love about it is families and neighbors get to reconnect,” she said.

Tom Skoczylas, 64, of Howland, said he has been attending for the last 18 years with his family and friends sitting with him on the parade route.

“I had these seats early, around 7:30 a.m.,” said Skoczylas, as he enjoyed the shade of the tree-lined parade route. Nearby, Jim Antil and wife, Natalie, with dog Kennedy of Howland, were pleased with the number of neighbors and friends they saw, noting many are longtime friends and others were newly made.

“Even our local dog trainers are here. It is such a nice event to bring people together,” Natalie Antil said.

Young attendee, and dog-lover, Sadee Zamarelli, 8, of Mentor, with her pug, “Mr. Z,” was counting candy and other fun prizes she had earned for her patience, standing near the end of the parade route throughout the morning.

“It’s probably the best parade we’ve been to. They have so much candy,” Sadee’s aunt, Maureen Zamarelli said.

Feasts for the eyes included a look at stellar helicopters, monster truck vehicles, armored police and fire vehicles, motorcycles and even a trio of high flying airplanes that kicked off the celebration.

The parade was only part of the day’s events which started by 8 a.m. with a 5K walk / run and were concluded by an afternoon festival behind the Howland High School. Family-friendly fun included a petting zoo, train rides, a pet show and a burrito-eating contest.

Patriotism, of course, was not forgotten, as members of the American Legion offered free flags and a flag folding lesson, a reminder of the true meaning of the day.