Parade commemorates Independence Day

AJ Fournier and Cassie Buchman

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Up 6th Street and down Polk Avenue, the annual Fourth of July parade kicked off with firetrucks and police in the front, followed by different businesses and organizations driving through throwing candy and ices.

Family Video, Coles County Republicans and Democrats, Shakespeare in the Park were just a few who participated in the parade.

The parade gave some a chance to reflect on their favorite parts of the Fourth of July.

Charleston resident Chris Bough said the meaning of the holiday to her is having family and friends get together to celebrate and enjoy the day.

“My mom hosts a parade party every year, she hosts a prize drawing and several friends come to watch the parade,” Chris Bough said.

Chris Bough’s daughter Ciere Bough said her grandma’s party is a family tradition every year and that it is enjoyable to mingle with all the neighbors, enjoy the day and then see the fireworks at night.

“We had a good time, we come every year and celebrate our freedom and that is what the fourth of July means to us,  it is a tradition for us,” said Charleston resident Richard Linder.

Through volunteering during the Fourth of July’s Red, White and Blue Days, Hawah Abdulrasaq Coker, an international student studying biological sciences and chemistry, became more involved in the Charleston community.  She said she loves the whole small town feel and how the holiday is celebrated here, so she stayed back this summer to experience it and work for New Student and Family Programs.

This is her second time in Charleston for the summer. Originally from Nigeria, Abdulrasaq Coker said her Independence Day experience has typically been more “chill.”

“This is more have fun, games,” she said.

Abdulrasaq Coker said one would see the inflatables and other festivities at birthday parties where she is from, not Independence Day parties. Last year, Abdulrasaq Coker did not have any friends with her in the area and said it was weird being by herself.

“It was really awkward, I had never really been involved with the town here, I was usually just doing my thing on campus,” she said.

However, after volunteering for Red White and Blue Days, she was able to interact with people from the community.

“I remember kids from last year,” Abdulrasaq Coker said. “I’ll be like ‘Oh my God, you’re a year older, you’re this much taller. It’s really cute.”

One child’s mom also remembered Abdulrasaq Coker from last year’s celebration.

“Things like that are great,” she said. “If I see her at Wal-Mart I’ll probably make conversation. It makes me feel like a part of the community. It makes me happy this one thing allows be to be part of the community.”

Some children Abdulrasaq Coker saw liked to go down the inflatable slide in different ways, putting their hands on top of their head or diving into the slide head first.

“We have to be like no that’s not allowed,” she said, laughing.

Charleston resident Kim Cardwell watched her children as they cooled off in the fire hose spray provided by the fire department.

“It’s a nice way to kind of just let them play, relax and cool off and have fun,” she said.

The children were looking forward to watching the parade.

“Looking for popsicles is their favorite part,” she said.

Charleston resident Samantha Traughber was with her daughter, Thea Stone, 8 and niece Emma Baker, 3.

They were at Red, White and Blue Days Monday and came back Tuesday after breakfast.

“I’m here every year,” Traughber said.

Traughber said she was happy to see the children have fun during the weekend.