Town officials appeared elated Saturday evening as the annual Hillsville July 4 parade continued its growth with more than 15 organizations participating. The event was a joint effort between the Town of Hillsville, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1115 and the Friends of Hillsville.
“We usually start at 4 p.m., but we couldn’t start right on the dot because of the turn out today,” said Friends of Hillsville spokesperson Jessica Talley.
Mayor Greg Crowder confirmed the large turnout caused some of the groups activities to be shortened to stay on schedule. Talley, who has served with the effort for three years, said town beautification committee members acted as judges for the floats.
Opening ceremonies were held at the VFW post following the parade, which featured the State Champion Carroll County High School Girls Softball Team as grand marshals. Other participants included police, fire and rescue vehicles, the Shrine Mini Truckers, the Kazim Hillbillies, Miss Carroll County Bethany Welch, Piper’s Gap and Laurel Fork Rescue Squads, Hillsville Town Council, the VFW Auxiliary, and the Carroll County Junior Officer’s Training Corps. The VFW Grover King Post 1115’s float won “most patriotic” honors.
The free hot dog meal also served up a slice of Americana with candidates taking to the stage for brief comments and a chance for a political meet and greet. Free watermelon, a bounce house and local performers were on hand before the scheduled fireworks began at dusk.
Town Manager Retta Jackson confirmed all 1,000 hotdogs were given away and said organizers felt blessed the weather did not affect the fireworks or the concert.
“We are thankful to be able to provide this event for our community,” said Jackson. “I’m really happy to see the large turnout. We (town volunteers) get to see a lot of the community we wouldn’t see any other day.”
Talley credited the continued success of the event to community support from businesses, civic groups, churches and the more than 50 volunteers who help with both events. She also praised the VFW.
“Every year for as long as I remember they have donated the facility and grounds for this,” Talley said. “It’s really been super for them to do this year after year. It’s something to watch all this come together.”
Crowder opened the hot dog meal by thanking the VFW for hosting the post-parade celebration again this year. He encouraged candidates present to introduce them to the audience and use the meal as an informal chance to talk with voters. Clerk of Court candidates who spoke were Gerald Goad, Jay McCraw and Phil Hawks. The sheriff’s department candidates who spoke were Incumbent J.B. Gardner, Shannon Goad and Chris Toney. Virginia Senate 20th District candidate Kim Atkins also spoke.
“It is so important to have these chances to meet candidates and learn more about who we want to vote for,” said Crowder. VFW Young Guns’ spokesman Mike Lara told participants about the community service group and challenged everyone to fly the American flag so those protesting it and stepping in it “can’t get to it.” He said he wanted everyone to know “in Hillsville, we fly the American flag high.”
Friends of Hillsville representative Laura Beth Parnell introduced the featured speakers, the Carroll County High School Girls Softball Team.
“At a time sadly when we (as a nation) are divided, these ladies have given us a chance to be joyfully united,” said Parnell.
Team members who spoke thanked parents, grandparents, the community and their coaches for all the support they received. Head Coach Rick Nester commended the community for its support.
“If you came to the games you know how much it (hometown fans attendance) grew each night,” said Nester. “Thank you to everyone in the county and the town of Hillsville for your support. We’re going to start work next Tuesday (July 21) for next year.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.