NORTH HILLS - The main focus for North Hills' annual Fourth of July parade and activities is on the birth of the United States and independence, but it's also an occasion to celebrate the community itself.
"We're a small town, but we're trying to keep some of the traditional values, the neighborhood spirit, accent on the family," Mayor Bill Summers said shortly before the festivities kicked off Friday morning.
More than three dozen children - most wearing red, white and blue and traveling in similarly decorated bicycles, scooters, strollers and wagons - participated in the initial event, a parade up Brentwood Drive and back to the North Hills Swim and Racquet Club pool.
Members of the Sons of the American Revolution Capt. James Neal Chapter lead the start of the annual North Hills Fourth of July Parade on Friday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)
North Hills resident Chloe Mulligan rides her scooter in the town’s annual Fourth of July parade Friday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)
Dozens of children decked out for Independence Day make their way down Brentwood Drive during North Hills’ annual Fourth of July parade Friday morning. (Photo by Evan Bevins)
Miss West Virginia USA 2014 Charisse Haislop, a North Hills resident, served as parade marshal and judged the children's patriotic entries.
"It was nice to be on the other end of judging others instead of being judged," laughed Haislop, who won the Miss West Virginia USA pageant in October and competed in the Miss USA pageant in June. "All the little kids brought their 'A' games."
She finally settled on 4-year-old North Hills resident Sydney Maze as the victor, citing the girl's patriotic dress and sunglasses along with her obvious enthusiasm.
It was the first year Maze, whose family moved to North Hills last year, had participated in the parade. The same was true for 4-year-old Chloe Mulligan, who rode her scooter, decorated with star-shaped balloons bearing an American flag pattern.
"Riding my scooter," Mulligan said when asked what her favorite part of the parade was. "I love that scooter."
Vienna resident Corissa Jackson's parents live in North Hills and she has brought her sons - Chandler, 5, and Connor, 3 - to the parade the last few years.
"It's just a good activity for the kids," Jackson said. "They get excited about decorating their bikes."
Many revelers were also mindful of the purpose for the day on which they celebrated.
"It just shows support for the country and what it means to people," North Hills resident Todd Nelson said. "It just helps people realize how important it is to live in a free nation."
This was the 16th year for the parade, which was started by Mary Weber, who Summers described as "the originator and passion" of the event. Before the parade, Summers presented a check for $1,000 to the Waverly Volunteer Fire Department, which provides fire service for the town. Donations were collected for Old Man Rivers mission, and food, music and games were offered at the Swim and Racquet Club.