A Maxwelton Independence Day Parade for the century

Maxwelton resident Benjamin Scott and his children


Evan Thompson / The Record | A pair of women, adorned in red, white and blue, riding atop a convertible cheer at the throngs of people lining Maxwelton Road. Temperatures in the upper 80s didn’t deter spectators and entrants from participating in the 100th annual Maxwelton Parade this weekend.

Around 2,000 people gathered on Maxwelton Road to celebrate community and independence for the nearly annual street spectacle around 1 p.m. Saturday.

The parade was led by grand marshals and longtime organizers Ken and Dana Gilroy, who opened the Fourth of July festivities by riding in a vintage red convertible.

A tradition in the Maxwelton community since the turn of century, the parade saw scores of moving entertainment, from elaborate floats to walking political and social costumes.

Clinton residents Robby Coale, Don Zontine, and Mike Clyburn were among a group that use the parade each year as a way of conveying current societal and political issues. Harnessing backpack frames as their props, the group hoisted puppets and signs like the one Clyburn wore, which read, “The voice of the people is stronger than the sound of money.”

“We’ve always been somewhat active in politics and social issues,” Clyburn said. “My wife is an artist and so I always have a message. My thinking is: Black letters on the white sign. Write down the words I want people to see. We just try to make it a little bigger each year.”

Matt Hoar, a stilt walker who often appears with other street performers at events and festivities on the island, dressed in support of the LGBT community.

“Today, I did the rainbow because of the Supreme Court Decision,” Hoar said.

Jerry Kaufman, 76, isn’t a fan of watching parades from the sidelines — he and his wife Jeri couldn’t hold back grins as they sported clown costumes.

“I think parades are boring as hell,” Jerry said. “The only reason I come to them because I want to be in it. I just enjoy it.”

Evan Thompson / The Record | A parade participant, dressed like the Uncle Sam cartoon and standing next a Spider-Man mannequin, doffs his cap and waves to the crowds.

The hot and dry weather didn’t seem to bother the Kaufmans, but it concerned parade organizer Bob Brooks.

“We brought in some water to be sure people had hydration,” Brooks said.

Brooks said there slightly fewer spectators than years past, but more entrants. The shift actually caused a slight mishap internally for the organizers.

“We ran out of entry forms, so some papers were in different colors,” Brooks said.

Though the costumes and float designs have changed in size and sophistication compared to the early years of the event, Brooks enjoys the parade just the same.

“To me it’s very simple: It reminds me of the way things were in the ‘50s,” Brooks said. “It was before life got complicated. People were just enjoying life as if there wasn’t a worry in the world. And there was nothing too fancy about. If you just had a bike with a flag, that was fine. Anything worked.”