Osceola Mills dripped with patriotism and tradition on Wednesday.
The porches, the children, the firetrucks, even the folding chairs looked like they had been hosed down with red, white and blue for the annual Columbia Fire Company Fire-men’s Parade, a Fourth of July celebration 90 years in the making. Todd Jeffries, of Philipsburg, has been pulling up a chair for the festivities for 60 years.
“It’s a wholesome fun time for the whole community,” he said. And family is always a part of that, as he pulled up chairs beside three generations of his clan.
The Calon family, of State College, found its way back to an old holiday haunt. Megan and Paul and their kids, Natalie, 10, Hannah, 8, Blake, 5, and Abbey, 6 months, had never been to the festivities, but Megan’s mother, Kathy Cady, of Chester Hill, has been coming all her life. Mother, daughter and grandkids gathered on Lingle Street to relive old memories and make new ones.
“This is our first time. It’s great for families,” said Megan Calon.
Families were everywhere. From proud grandmas like Betsy Mignot, of Osceola Mills, showing of her brood of patriotic beauties (Sian, 9, Jada, 8, and Sage, 5) at their usual spot in front of the United Methodist church, to indulgent parents willing to brave a household sugar high after their kids collected bags full of Tootsie Rolls and root beer barrels. Noah Anderson, 7, was quite clear that the candy was what brought him to the parade with sisters Leigha and Annabeth — and dad Chris, of Smithmill, was just as clear: “I want to see the look on their faces,” he said.
For some, however, the passing marching bands and floats were incidental. The real tradition was sharing the good time with friends.
“I drove 584 miles from Knoxville, Tenn., for this,” said Michael Turner as he held court on Curtin Street. His old friends knew just where to find him, the same place he’s been every year since he stopped marching in the parade in high school.