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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Danisha HogueThe California Veterinary Clinic display pulled a trailer to throw candy at the Fourth of July parade. The business is celebrating 40 years. More pictures are on page 12.

California residents lined the streets for the annual "Proud of America 4th of July Parade."

The event, which brought family and friends together and celebrated freedom, was organized by the California Masonic Lodge No. 183 since 2007.

Raised in California, George Shelley loves the Independence Day parade. In high school, he marched as a color guard member. In 2006, he was shocked when nothing occupied the route.

After talking with the mayor, he found the event was without a sponsor. With a little initiative, Shelley reached out to the local lodge to ask if they would be interested.

Since 2007, California Masonic Lodge No. 183 has ensured the community has a parade with Shelley as head contact. A retired California English teacher, he said celebrating the nation is part of being an American.

"It's the birth of the United States," Shelley said. "It is worth celebrating."

A police escort led by the Mid-Mo Patriot Guard Riders started the parade with its motorcycles holding American and military flags that were blowing in the wind. Senior ride captain David Bledsoe, of Tipton, said the flags show respect to those fallen soldiers who fought for freedom.

"We stand for those who stood for us," Bledsoe said.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4345 drove several former veterans in the parade. Tom Winters and Bernie Bestgen said the holiday is often one people take for granted.

"I wish more people would feel something for it," Bestgen said. "It'd be a good day to drop the partisanship and just be American."

Other parade participants said they enter to spread joy and, of course, candy to those who come to watch.

Resident Lori Gorroll and family sat on their front lawn for a good view. While children shared excitement for fireworks, Gorroll said the best part of the holiday is being with family.

"It's a time to have those little get togethers," Gorroll said.

Residents Brandy Phouangsyvanith and Rose Arellanl agreed the parade is always great.

"The community gets together, and they really make it something special," Phouangsyvanith said.

The event gives residents the chance to come together in the morning before fireworks that evening, Shelley said.

One thing he wishes the parade had was a band.

"This was an excellent parade," Shelley said.

Someone else will need to take over organizing the event soon, he said. As of now, he plans to continue leading the process.

On Thursday night, California Fire Chief Allen Smith said, guests filled Proctor Park.

"The firework show went real well," Smith said. "We had concerns, of course, because of the weather and there was rain in the area. But all the rain had hit in the afternoon. One good thing was that made things nice and wet for the fireworks."

The California Community Ensemble did an outstanding job playing at the shelter, he added.

No incidents occurred at the event.

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