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The storied Fourth of July parade at Montreat will be 50 years old on Wednesday, and this year it is celebrating the families of founders Glenn Bannerman and the late Larry Wilson as grand marshals.

Traditionally a homecoming holiday that brings extended Montreat families together from all over the country, the Fourth of July celebration open to everyone captures the essence of American life and has become a popular celebration for everyone in the area.

Wilson and Bannerman created the parade in 1969. Bannerman, who had an extensive background in planning special events for city recreation departments, suggested to Wilson that Montreat might celebrate the Fourth of July all day by having a homemade parade, a flag raising and afternoon recreation events.  The first parade advertisement read “… for anything that moves and is decorated.”  

This year’s parade theme is “Celebrating 50 Years of the Montreat Parade,” and the day’s events are a time to celebrate the community of Montreat, as well as freedom, peace, unity and the community of faith. The Montreat parade, starting at 10:30 a.m., is homespun Americana: marching bagpipers, family pets dressed to the nines and banners and crests raised high on everything from brooms to flagpoles. There will be clown cars, fire trucks, decorated baby carriages and more.

After the parade, the annual Montreat community Fourth of July barbecue lunch will be catered by the Red Radish. Tickets will be sold June 20-July 2 at the Montreat Store and the Red Radish, and June 25-July 2 from 9 a.m.-noon at the Montreat Post Office. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance. 

After lunch, there will be a silent auction at the Currie Craft Center & Sally Jones Pottery from 1-5 p.m. As it has always been, the afternoon will be spent in events such as climbing the greased pole and other activities at Moore Center Field.

Bannerman has reminisced about a previous fireworks display on Lake Susan which went awry one year, causing some bystanders to take an unwanted dip in Lake Susan. In following years, the fireworks fund went into procuring the Stony Creek Boys (who still play on Friday nights at the Barn in the summer) for a mountain folk dance on the Fourth. The dance is held in the parking lot next to the Bell Library (or the Barn in inclement weather).

The event, put on by the Montreat Conference Center, is open to the community and is a great way to celebrate with family and friends. Here is the day’s schedule:  

  •     7 a.m.: Montreat Gait 5K race, Montreat Gate  
  •   9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Montreat Store hours
  •  10:30 a.m.: Fourth of July parade, followed by flag-raising ceremony
  •   11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Barbecue lunch
  •    1-5 p.m.: Silent auction at Currie Craft Center/Sally Jones Pottery
  •    2 p.m.: Old Timers’ softball game, Welch Field
  •   2-4 p.m.: Games on Anderson and Moore Center fields
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