Byline: BRIAN G. KELLEY
In what has become a Clay County tradition, thousands of people came out to celebrate the nation's independence at the Ninth Annual American Pie Fourth of July Celebration at Moosehaven.
People celebrated the nation's birthday with food, fun, music and fireworks. Tents lined the streets inside the complex selling everything from artwork to food to candidates for virtually every county office. There were several attractions for kids, including rides, a moon bounce, face painting and a chance to meet Elmo.
The event offered a wide variety of dining choices, including all of the kinds of cuisine that come to mind when one thinks of "American food." There was the quintessential barbeque, as well as burgers, seafood and shaved ice. And of course, the iconic foodstuff of the holiday, as well as the festival's namesake-pie.
Live performers played various kinds of music throughout the day, including country, blues and a handful of the most recognizable patriotic anthems.
One of the highlights of the festival was the parade on River Road. Spectators began lining the street at least an hour in advance to watch fire trucks, vintage cars and floats pass. The parade also featured multiple vehicles advertising candidates for a wide range of county offices.
Kathy and Ray DiMonda came with their children-Rachel, 14, and Bridgette, 10-to the celebration. They have been coming for the last nine years.
The DiMondas, who were camped out on the roadside for the parade, said they enjoy coming mainly for the fireworks and the food.
"It's a nice way to celebrate Independence Day with all of our neighbors," Ray said. "It's a nice, clean family atmosphere."
He said they enjoy coming every year to see what organizers have done to improve the event.
"It's fantastic," he said. "Every year they seem to add a little bit more."
Kathy DiMonda used to serve in the U.S. Navy, and her husband still serves. To them, Independence Day simply means having patriotism and freedom.
Ray DiMonda said they appreciate the active role community members take in sponsoring the event and making it happen.
"I'd just like to say thank you for the sponsors," he said. "I'm just glad to see the community step up and help out because it's a great way to celebrate. …