Last Modified: Friday, July 05, 2013 11:36 AM
Parade-goers slowly lined Ryan Street early Thursday evening, most starting out on the west side of the street in the shade of buildings to avoid the setting sun.
Both sides of the street were lined when the parade began, kicking off Lake Charles’ annual Red, White, Blue and You Fourth of July celebration, which also included a concert and fireworks at the Civic Center.
Tamra Johnson and Jonah Leyva spent the afternoon at Lock Park with their family, grilling a “red-blooded” American meal of hamburgers and hot links. They chose a shady spot where the kids in their group could be near the park’s playground and where they could see both the parade and the fireworks.
Johnson was adamant the day be called “Independence Day.”
“I think the meaning of it gets lost when you say the Fourth,” she said. “This is the American holiday.”
Barbara Miller said it was good to spend the holiday with her family.
“I’ve got all my kids and grandkids right here,” she said.
They said family members in the armed services were also on their mind.
“I hope they come home soon,” Leyva said.
Ainsley’s Angels led the parade down Ryan Street.
The organization, a group of runners who provide ride-alongs to disabled children during endurance races, served as grand marshals.
“Our goal is to spread the message of inclusion for all individuals with disabilities,” Tanya McGee said.
Ainsley Rossiter, the Ainsley of Ainsley’s Angels, was pushed down the parade route by her older sister, Briley Rossiter.
“It’s my favorite thing to do in the entire world because it’s something we can do as sisters,” said Briley, who has pushed Ainsley in 15 road races.
Ainsley is one of eight people in the United States with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy, her father, U.S. Marine Maj. Kim Rossiter said.
Kim said the day was particularly special for him because he was back in Lake Charles, where he married his wife 15 years ago on July 4.
Like all Louisiana parades, participants threw candy and beads.
Brothers Hunter and Caleb Kellogg, from Oklahoma visiting their great-grandparents, Clarence and Carol Hess in Moss Bluff, both loaded up on candy and beads.
Caleb, who spent much of the parade making sure others got candy, too, said his favorite moment of the parade was “the part where they throw out candy.”
Hunter said the beads “were fun, too.”
The boys’ father, Chris Kellogg, said they had spent the day in typical Fourth of July fashion — with barbecue and fireworks.
Sophia Melville, who racked up on beads and candy with sister Ava, said her favorite part of the parade was seeing the flag come down the street.