How we celebrate

With parades, fishing or fireworks, Columbians find ways to enjoy the day
Tuesday, July 5, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:33 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

I love a parade

With a would-be Gen. Douglass MacArthur as grand marshal, the Park Hill neighborhood held its annual Independence Day Parade.

The parade was just one of the many ways Columbians spent the Fourth of July. They also barbecued, swam, set off fireworks and if they had to work, it was usually for time-and-a-half pay.

But back to the neighborhood parade:

Three children who were towed behind a lawn-mower waved to everyone in sight on their way to the starting point at Garth Street and East Parkway.

“It’s just a neighborhood get-together,” said the mower’s driver, Kevin Fobes, who was also the General MacArthur impersonator. “It’s a good way to celebrate the Fourth.”

Kids on Big Wheels, bikes and scooters wove back and forth under the shade of elm and oak trees. Infants rode in Radio Flyer wagons, and dogs were festooned in garlands and bandanas.

Neighbors beckoned each other to leave the sidewalk and join the procession before crossing a bridge to a picnic.

Fobes, born and raised in Columbia, said that such events lured his family back to town five years ago. When asked to explain the inspiration behind donning the MacArthur get-up, he said,. “When I thought about driving around three or four pretty princesses, I thought it would be better if Gen. MacArthur did the job.”

Summer harvest


Amanda Morford, 21, sells tomatoes to Jerry Ubl on Monday. The stand is run by Summerfield Landscaping Garden and Gifts. (CHRIS WEHLING/Missourian)

Amanda Morford, 21, woke up early to spend a few hours overseeing a quaint stand for Summerfield Landscaping Garden and Gifts near Forum Boulevard and Chapel Hill Road.

The stand featured the deep green of zucchini, almost-golden squash, ripe yellow tomatoes and fresh flowers to adorn picnic tables.

The finishing touch was the fuzzy Georgia peaches.

“They’re pretty good,” Morford said. “I’ve had, like, five.”

Setting up and overseeing the stand is a ritual that takes place every Saturday, but the holiday called for an extra day out.

Aside from being worried about being rained on, Morford had no complaints about having to work.

“It’s a nice day,” she said. “It’s not really sunny or hot.”

A brisk splash

At noon at the Oakland Family Aquatic Center, there were more lifeguards than patrons. The pools remained empty thanks to the ominous clouds overhead. Still, some people braved the weather for the sake of a brisk swim, as the McKees did.

“If we were at home and the weather was like this, we probably wouldn’t even go to the pool,” said Cabrina McKee, a resident of Plano, Texas. Her children, Micah and James, lingered by the diving boards with their cousins while the adults watched from poolside.

Micah climbed out of the pool and onto a teal plastic diving board. She ran right to the board’s edge and stopped, turning toward her mother.

Cabrina McKee nodded and readied her digital camera. Micah bounced once, waving her arms ecstatically in the air before tucking into a cannonball and disappearing into the water.


Micah emerged a few seconds later, laughing excitedly in between hurried breaths. She raced back onto the diving board, ready to take the plunge again.

“Micah took her first jump off the diving board today,” Cabrina McKee said. “She got up there 10 times before she did it once.”

Making bucks from bangs

For the last two weeks, Tim and Jeff Tosh have slept on a dirt floor and called a blue and white striped fireworks tent home. The 22-year-old brothers came from their hometown of Batesville, Ark., to sell fireworks.

“We’ll probably make $20,000 today, hopefully,” Tim said.

Tables of fireworks lined the tent, and boxes sat below. A few customers came in and out, but the tent was mostly empty.

“If it rains, it’ll kill us,” Tim said.

The twins are saving to move to Fayetteville, Ark., where they’ll start school in the fall. Tim said he doesn’t want to sell fireworks, but he needs the money.

“I’m not a fan, honestly. I just don’t like fireworks. I’m so used to them, I guess. It’s like if you’re the pizza guy, you’re tired of pizza.” Tim said. “I’m tired of fireworks.”

Firework festivities

The sturdy black gates leading to Faurot Field opened, and the clustered crowd of people anticipating the Fire in the Sky event of music and fireworks rushed in.

Bill and Nancy Byars of Fortuna were selling kettle corn and snow cones on the Northwest side of the stadium. This is the second year they participated. “It’s our favorite event,” said Nancy Byars.

Joe Baker, 17, stood outside the stadium selling glow sticks and glow necklaces, trying to raise money for college. Haligh Anthony, 6, rolled down the grassy hill on the North side of the stadium. “I’m most excited to see the fireworks,” Haligh said.

Christyonna Samuels, 6, clutched the string of a red balloon while her brother, Darnell, 10, tightly held onto flags that were distributed at the entrance.

Festively dressed people wandered around the stadium, waiting mostly for the fireworks. Sammy Gonzalez, 4, said he wanted to see red fireworks the most.

Another fish tale

Ripples pushed their way over the lake at Stephens Lake Park as Maurice Johnson watched for the slightest movement in the submerged fishing lines. His son, seventh-grader Justin, paced behind the three poles, ready to pounce on the chance to reel in the big one. His wife, Olga, reclined in her lawn chair, focused on a paperback book.

While digging through a container for night crawlers, Maurice introduced a competition. “Let’s make a little wager,” he said to Justin. “You know, I’ve got some dishes that need washing at home.”

The wager: If Maurice caught a fish first, Justin washed dishes. If Justin was first, Maurice would give him $10.

A twitch of the line and Justin hurried over to his pole, ready to collect his prize. He reeled in a fishless hook.

With the gloom of dirty dishes looming in Justin’s future, Maurice pulled in a four-inch bluegill. But Maurice didn’t yet claim his victory.

“It doesn’t count,” he said. “Too small.”

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