Boomers and Floats for the Red, White and Blue

Mount Dora celebrates Independence Day with small-town gusto

Mount Dora’s Independence Day celebrations again proved that neither a little rain nor too much shine is enough to keep folks from all over Central Florida from having a good time in Someplace Special.

Now in the third year of splitting the celebration into two events, Park and Recreation director Roy Hughes estimates the total turnout was around 25,000.

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Elizabeth Evans Park as celebrants find a space for the fireworks display

Despite a 6 p.m. gullywasher, Sunday night’s fireworks display oohed and ahhed attendees in Elizabeth Evans Park. Faces young and old alike lit up as the upward tracers blossomed in explosions of red, white and blue.

The next morning, despite heat that later topped 97 degrees, the parade played to a packed house. The Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle organized the event again this year.  Kids almost outnumbered adults, and the lines were heavy on both sides of Donnelly except downtown where shade heavily favored the eastern side.

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And down the way they came—Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, Mount Dora police and fire,  officers from Lake County Sheriff’s department (on bikes, motorbikes horses, a motorboat and SWAT car), several local churches, junior majorettes, Mayor Girone and council members, local businesses, Mount Dora Pride, the Parks and Rec float. Alongside walked dozens of people throwing candy to the crowd. And this year superheroes paraded too—Spiderman, Aquaman and two dudes who looked sort of like “Star War” imperial troopers.

Chief O’Grady with Mount Dora’s finest
Chief O’Grady with Mount Dora’s finest

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Mount Dora Pride
Mount Dora Pride
Mayor Nick Girone
Mayor Nick Girone

Doubling the length of the parade this year were all of the candidates looking for some face time with constituents. These ranged from our own city council candidates to those seeking county-wide offices—judge, county commission, sheriff, supervisor of elections. One left the parade wondering how big a ballot folks will have to contend with come November.

Bringing up the rear was volunteer and Citizens Observance Program participant Marsha Blum in a golf cart holding up a small handwritten sign that said, “The End.”

Many folks deserve credit for the great job pulling off this event, notably Chris Carson, the city’s special events coordinator, event sponsor the Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle, support staff in Parks and Rec, police and the many volunteers who always lend a hand.

As all the spectators ebbed back toward their cars and cooler spaces, there were many jobs to do to get the city back to normal— trash to be picked up, signs removed, all the extras carted away. But come Tuesday, downtown Mount Dora was pristine and ready again for business—independent, bustling and proud.

David Cohea, Writer (david@mountdoracitizen.com)