Today’s annual Independence Day celebrations in the city of McAllen were kicked off with a patriotic program and parade that drew RGV families to Main Street and Archer Park.
This Fourth of July the city held their 90th annual Independence Day Celebration, providing local communities the opportunity to spend an entire day out with the family. The Independence Day Parade, which features floats designed by organizations and businesses from across the Valley that contribute to the area’s growth, started at Houston St. and went north down Main St. before ending at Cedar St. at Archer Park.
For Maria Chapa, attending the Independence Day parade has been a family tradition for as long as she can remember. When she was a child, her father began taking her entire family out to McAllen for the event – creating memories that she recalls whenever she sees the parade to this day.
“This is my favorite parade to go to,” Chapa said. “It’s more community-oriented.”
Chapa noted that those participating in the parade don’t have to be from big businesses, and the Independence Day parade truly highlights the children in the area.
“You actually get to see the kids in the community,” Chapa said. “The Boys and Girls Club is in it, Parks and Recreation, the smaller summer bands, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts all participate.”
The parade brings the community together and promotes a patriotic spirit for the United States through the involvement of long-standing organizations such as the Freemasons, POWs and the Shriners. The involvement of veterans and currently serving military service members is good to instill in the city, according to Chapa.
“It brings the community together to honor those who have helped get us where we are today and remember history,” Chapa said.
Chapa’s son, 11-year-old Troy, has been attending the Independence Day Parade in Mcallen all his life. He enjoys the various bands and people featured in the event, and Chapa said that because he has found his own interest in it, the parade has become a sort of intergenerational family tradition that allows Troy another way to be close to his grandfather.
“It gives Troy a look at my dad, because he’s no longer with us,” Chapa said. “So at least he knows what type of person he was – taking his family to these types of events and creating memories.”
“I remember going as a child, we [her family] would all go,” Chapa added, noting that the parade really brings out memories of her father to her in particular. “You have to remember that McAllen didn’t have that many events like they do now, or many facilities like they do now.”
While the growth of these events has made the parade last longer and feature more people, rising concession prices and a lack of affordable family-friendly options are becoming more limiting for families.
“You could go as a family together and not have to waste so much money,” Chapa said. “It’s a good time to spend together and not be put off by costs.”
Events celebrating America’s history allow members of the public to be educated on U.S. traditions and reminded of how far the country has come since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.
“When I’m out here, I have to remind Troy [her son] to take off his cap and put his hand over his heart, because I feel like that’s kind of getting lost,” Chapa said. “For sure it’s not pushed in the schools. I want Troy to continue that and be proud of his country.”
Red, white and blue flags, balloons and clothes colored Main St. while showcasing a spectacle that embodies the American spirit today as spectators cheered and donned their own patriotic gear (Troy included – the RGV resident chose to spray his hair temporarily with the colors of the U.S. flag).
“I enjoy the parade because I relive memories,” Chapa said. “Seeing the community together and being proud of where we live and where we come from is important.”