Patriotism bursts Fourth at Sebastian’s Freedom Fest

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”13″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_imagebrowser” ajax_pagination=”0″ order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]Riverview Park sizzled with patriotic glory last Tuesday at the Sebastian Lions Club’s annual 4th of July Parade and Freedom Festival. The celebration officially began with an opening ceremony at the flagpole adjacent to the park where Rev. Dave Newhart of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church of Sebastian gave the invocation. As the Sebastian River Area Honor Guard and members of the Sebastian River High School Navy ROTC raised the flag, Ka’ Wright, a Sebastian resident, sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem.
With crowds of glittering red, white and blue Americans lining Indian River Drive along the lagoon from Jackson Street to the park, Coldwell Banker Paradise led the way, handing out flags along the parade route. Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared, setting the tone as the Color Guard passed and patriots proudly waved Old Glory.
Theresa Tolle, this year’s grand marshal, was accompanied by various military and veteran organizations, including the American Legion Post 189, the Veterans Council of Indian River County and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10210.
Local first responders and members of law enforcement were also on hand and, as is traditional with small-town parades across the nation, there were the requisite church groups, service clubs, local businesses, scout troops, state representatives, city officials and marching bands offering their own slice of Americana.
Many parade participants handed out water to parched patrons, along with candy, red, white and blue necklaces and other festively patriotic paraphernalia. “Taps” played as the Sebastian Bark Park paid tribute to Sebastian K-9 Police Officer Diesel and the Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County brought along a pack of pooches to charm the crowd.
AirSports Flag Sky Divers landed by the river with an American flag billowing in the wind, officially ending the parade and the crowd flocked en masse to the festival in the park. Local bands provided live musical entertainment while families feasted on gumbo and barbecue, shopped at an array of vendors, threw their hips into the Hula Hoop contest, or tried their best at watermelon- and pizza-eating contests.
After a fun-filled day, the City of Sebastian produced an amazing fireworks display, the perfect ending to a perfect day honoring America and her people.
“Our motto is ‘We serve.’ One of the ways we serve the community is by putting on the parade and the festival. We started this about 46 years ago with the city and have been doing it ever since,” explained Tony Anunziato, Lions Club secretary and event coordinator.
Proceeds from the Freedom Festival will benefit the many projects the Lions Club supports, including eye care and hearing for the needy through the collection of eyeglasses and hearing aids, classes for the visually impaired, diabetes screening, college scholarships for Sebastian River High School students, assisting the Wabasso School, Special Olympics and White Cane Days.  

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