In the 90 degree heat they came. The politicians. The church groups. The patriotically outfitted pooches. Some came to campaign and some to proselytize. But most came to celebrate 232 years of American Independence at Oxford's Fourth of July Parade.
Oxford's Citizen of the Year, Don Ballard, led the parade, seated atop a vintage 1962 town of Oxford fire truck. He was accompanied by Councilman Hoyt Oliver, dressed as Uncle Sam. It was originally Oliver's idea to have the parade back in 1976 to celebrate the country's bicentennial. The parade was such a hit, that the city has held it ever since.
In an unusually crowded primary season, political trucks, cars and tractors made up the majority of floats at the parade. Candidates for local, state and congressional office all mingled with attendees, passing out buttons, fliers and candy.
In fact, the amount of candy thrown to parade attendees from the floats was so large that several attendees walked away with plastic bags filled with a Halloween trick-or-treater's worth of the sweet stuff.
Eveylyn Chaplan of Porterdale, attended the parade with her friends as they have for many years in the past.
"I thought it was really good this year," Chaplan said, adding that she was a big fan of the small cars driven in the parade.
Ed Hutter's campaign float which featured a Styrofoam scale model of the Historic Courthouse was the largest in the parade. Hutter, a candidate for county chairman, said the float took 40 hours to build.
As in years past, the Oxford Lions Club held a brief celebration at Old Church after the parade, where hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream were sold. Free watermelon slices and popcorn was also provided to the musical accompaniment of the Little Bit of Country Band.
Several business-minded individuals took advantage of their house's location along the parade route by setting up a lemonade stand, which also sold sparklers, brownies and homemade scented soap.
Not satisfied with their customer intake levels, stand managers 9-year-old Alex Quinlan and 10-year-old Madeline McCanless outfitted 6-year-old Kate Quinlan with sandwich boards advertising their business and dispatched her to Oxford's Old Church to attract more customers.
"It was really fun working here," said Alex, of the lemonade stand, which is in its first year of business.
Chairman candidates Aaron Varner, Susette Monk, Hubert White and Kathryn Morgan also had floats in the parade as did sheriff candidates Stacey Cotton, Bill Watterson, Chris Cowan, Marty Roberts and Ezell Brown. County commission candidates Jimmy Clark, Keith Mitcham, Nancy Schulz, Andre Cooper and Tim Fleming had floats as well. Tax commissioner candidate Doris Strickland, Clerk of Courts Linda Hays and District Attorney Ken Wynne were also in the parade.
Republican candidate for Georgia's 8th Congressional District, Rick Goddard, was on hand as were Republican candidates for District 17, John Douglas and Mike Crotts.