Red, white and blue flooded downtown Flagstaff July 4 as spectators gathered to watch floats, dancers and bands prance down San Francisco and Beaver Street at the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Fourth of July parade.
Kristina Rolfe, a Flagstaff resident for eight years, along with her children and her in-laws, were among the estimated 20,000 that came to celebrate America’s Independence Day.
“I like the free stuff that they hand out, the pizzazz, the flair, just the overall community getting together and the excitement of the day,” said Rolfe. “No matter what our political opinions are, races, all the differences that make American unique, you can have one day where everybody celebrates together.”
Her mother-in-law, Jayne Rolfe, is visiting from New Zealand and arrived at the parade at 7:30 a.m. to ensure a good view to see her son, Kristina’s husband, who participated in the parade with the Northern Arizona Rugby Football Club.
“In New Zealand we don’t have anything like this, and it’s really, really good to see a country come together,” said Jayne Rolfe. “It’s so wonderful to see that so many people were here so early and the pride that they have in their country.”
Among the 100 floats was one from Grand Canyon National Park, with two horses leading the way as park rangers handed out pieces of candy advertising their fee-free days.
“We did this last year for the first time ever, it was a lot of fun so we decided to come back here again,” said outreach coordinator Vanessa Cejas. “We had a great, great reaction from the crowd.”
She also noted how the parade helps to spread the word about national parks.
“This gives us an opportunity for exposure and visibility, and especially for kids that don’t know anything about national parks, or don’t really see rangers on a daily basis,” Cejas said. “It’s a great opportunity for those interactions.”
Russ Furstnow, a Flagstaff resident and Ford Model T aficionado, has participated in the parade with his friends and family for 10 years with a variety of cars that were all built between 1911 and 1927.
“People are amazed to see a car over 100 years old even driving,” said Furstnow. “It’s kind of amazing to see a car that’s this old, and it’s a tribute to the old Model T itself.”
While Furstnow brings his cars to various shows and tours around the country, he’s especially proud to participate in this parade to celebrate the United States.
“The Fourth of July parade is obviously to promote our love for this country, and being proud to be an American and be part of country,” he said. “Flagstaff is a very high-destination place for people to come and see the parade and celebrate our Fourth of July birthday.”