WINSLOW — Every year at this time, Winslow resident Jane Cochran takes out her American flag shirt and sits under her American flag umbrella, holding an American flag in each hand. It must be Independence Day in Winslow.

“I think it’s wonderful. I always look forward to the parade. It’s the best one around,” Cochran said.

The crowd of at least 6,000 huddled toward every inch of shade, while volunteers on four-wheelers traveled up and down the spectator-lined roads selling water and other beverages. People traveled from towns around Maine to take in the two-hour parade, which featured various emergency vehicles, two live bands on flatbed trucks, a number of local nonprofit organizations and community celebrities.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Taylor Reynolds, a Winslow resident and 2011 Junior National 9-Ball Billiard champion who was riding atop a former Indianpolis 500 pace car. “This is my first time having my own ride, which is better because you don’t have to walk. It’s cool I get to be promoted a little bit.”

The Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration is in its 23rd year, with the Fourth of July parade and fireworks the main attraction of the five-day festival. Each year, the parade and fireworks attract tens of thousands to the small community in a celebration of patriotism. With such a large influx of people, preparation is crucial to ensure a safe holiday.

“We have a couple meetings to coordinate before hand,” said Nick Raymond, a Winslow Fire Department officer. “We draw it out and get assigned to a specific job and we tackle it piece by piece.

With a parade like this, we shouldn’t have too many issues.” According to the Winslow Police Department, other than a couple calls for heat exhaustion, the parade was incident-free.

“Really, safety is paramount,” Sgt. Haley Fleming said. “The fire guys tend to the medical issues and we keep the intersections clear and provide crowd control.”

Along every sidewalk of the parade route, flags were waving, children were playing and families were doing their best to stay cool. Sitting under an umbrella on the corner of Benton Avenue and Danielson Street, Joan Gaulin had a front-row seat in the parade’s opening moments.

“We never miss them,” Gaulin said, adding that she’s lived in Winslow for 41 years. “My oldest daughter went down to the park to volunteer already.”

Dressed in enough red, white and blue to make Uncle Sam blush, Don and Michele Grotton, of Oakland, were marching in the parade to support their new nonprofit organization The Gift of Giving.

“We’re trying to sponsor 10 families for the upcoming Christmas,” Michele Grotton said. “We’ve been wanting to do something like this to help needy families.” Grotton said the organization is in its first year.

While the celebration is based in Winslow, it has a regional atmosphere, with a number of organizations from around the state represented in the parade, as well as thousands of residents from bordering towns taking in the event.

“We have friends from Oakland here. There are people from Waterville and Fairfield,” Cochran said.

“They come from all around for this celebration.”

Jesse Scardina — 861-9239
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