It started with a flat tire on July 4, 2005.
Since then, the annual Broadacre Road Fourth of July parade has gone smoothly. In fact, it’s become an anticipated tradition among family and friends along the dead-end road just south of North Whitfield Middle School.
“Independence Day celebrations are what America is all about: family, fun and togetherness,” said Prissy Henry, a longtime parade participant. “These characteristics are what the Broadacre picnic and parade exemplify. The floats that you see on this special day are probably not on the caliber of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Rose Parade, but they certainly are good for the heart.”
The parade begins at the homeplace of the late Clyde and Becky Richards — Henry’s parents — on the family farm they bought 50 years ago. The staging area is at Henry’s home about one mile from the intersection of Broadacre Road and Cleveland Highway. The parade viewers gather at a home near that intersection.
All of their children including Henry (Richards) and her husband Patrick, Bill and Janice Richards, and Cindy (Richards) and Charlie Eicholtz still live on the farm. Many in the Brooker and Richards families reside on or near Broadacre Drive.
After Becky Richards passed away several years ago, Patrick and Prissy Henry decided to add an activity to their already popular Fourth of July picnic. They envisioned a parade with entries from family and friends.
During that first parade in 2005, it was only fitting that Clyde Richards led the group as the grand marshal. He embarked in his personal golf cart with a banner on the hood proclaiming him “Mayor of Broadacre.” But within the first 100 feet, the golf cart blew a tire. The first parade was held up about 15 minutes until the flat tire could be repaired.
“Everyone had a big laugh and the parade went on,” Prissy Henry said.
The parade continues to honor Clyde Richards’ memory. Since his death five years ago, grand marshal duties have rotated between his son and sons-in-law.
Fierce thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon delayed the parade for about an hour. Most of the attendees didn’t seem to mind since rain has been scarce in the area lately. Plus, the rain showers dropped temperatures into the tolerable 70s for a few hours, a welcome respite from the recent 100-plus degree heat.
About 75 people gathered for the event. Children shot basketballs, hit baseballs and played on a giant waterslide. Adults — one of whom relaxed in a plush recliner — sat under tailgating tents conversing with friends. But when Gary Bingham’s cellphone rang with the news, the crowd quickly began gathering at the edge of the road.
The parade was on its way.
As the 20-vehicle cavalcade slowly crested a small hill on the country road, attendees saw the parade was headed up by new grand marshals Jim and Gladys Wilson, who rode in a red golf cart while 9-year-old Harris Gallegly marched alongside dressed in camouflage attire. The Wilsons have been regular attendees since the event’s inception.
Those on parade tossed candy to the crowd. They waved. They wished everyone a happy Independence Day.
Entrants in the parade brought out whatever was unique and unusual. On Wednesday, that included children’s battery-powered cars, old-time tractors, golf carts adorned with American flags, bicycles and classic cars. A few years ago a speed boat was in the motorcade.
“This is a very patriotic group,” said Jim Kinnamon, who drove a red AC Cobra in the parade. “The parade helps get people together. There are many kin people here and some are nearly kin, so everybody knows each other. We just have a big time every year.”
Ambyr Gallegly said the celebration has grown every year as the extended family has expanded. The parade has generated some memorable characters such as The Statue of Liberty and Pocahontas, she said.
“It’s a lot of excitement for our little street,” Gallegly said.
As the parade made its way back to the staging area at the Henry’s home, children scrambled to pick up the remaining pieces of candy along the road. After the picnic at the Henry’s barn, the group moved to Jack Brooker’s home for a fireworks show.
And yes, some traveled there on golf carts still decked out in patriotic decorations.
Broadacre Road parade celebrates Independence Day
It started with a flat tire on July 4, 2005.
‘It was a brutal time’
Dr. William Blackman opened a box of tools consisting of medical instruments, including a saw, and proceeded to tell visitors how they were used more than a century ago to amputate limbs for soldiers wounded on the battlefield.Continued ...
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