Jul. 3—CHESTERFIELD — It was a perfect day for a parade.
Cloudless skies and unseasonably cool temperatures greeted thousands of people who lined Main Street to watch floats, fire trucks, mascots and other participants in the town's annual Fourth of July Parade.
After a one-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the parade drew spectators who were eager to enjoy a large scale community event free of mask wearing and other restrictions.
"It's awesome seeing all the kids out here," said Bryce Cole of Anderson as his son Caden accepted some candy from Joe Johnson of the Daleville-Salem Township Fire Department. "It's good to see things getting back to normal — at least halfway back to normal."
For Marty Bloyd, who was on hand with his daughter Pamela, the day represented an opportunity not only to be together with friends and neighbors, but to affirm a sense of togetherness that he said makes America unique.
"I think it's great that we have an opportunity to come out and honor the country and for everybody to be together and show their support for each other and just enjoy a great day," he said. "It's good to see everybody out enjoying themselves."
Two weeks ago, it looked like the parade would be much smaller than the 83 entries that lined up along Skyview Drive and Indiana 32 west of downtown. But a flurry of last-minute signups ensured that one of the town's signature events would be as big as ever.
"We attract four to five thousand people," said parade organizer Deborah Dunham, who is also the town's clerk-treasurer. "Two weeks ago I had 20 entries. Today I drove down (State Road) 32, and there were more people than I could believe.
"It's amazing to me. I feel like it's such a patriotic thing, and we've done it every year. It's a signature parade."
"I think it brings people together," Dennis Scott said as he sat behind the wheel of a vehicle shortly before the parade began. "The patriotic feeling that is behind it, I think it means a whole lot to the community."
Scott was with the Madison County Shrine Club, which had several members in the parade on three-wheeled ATVs.
Dunham agreed with some who said the Fourth of July weekend represents a significant milestone in the country's return to normal life after nearly a year and a half of disruptions stemming from the pandemic.
"This really kicks that off," she said. "We're kicking off normalcy here today."
Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.