In a parade that featured plenty of star power, World War II and Korean War veteran Richard Gard and other vets and active-duty service members drew the biggest cheers at the Americana Festival.
Gard, 91, fought at Normandy, and the Kettering resident was the parade’s grand marshal. He was one of the main attractions at a festival that drew an estimated 100,000 people to Centerville on the Fourth of July.
“This is one of the largest crowds I’ve seen,” publicity chairman Anne Arisman said, adding that a typical crowd is about 60,000 to 70,000.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich walked the route as honorary grand marshal, shaking hands with onlookers. There hasn’t been a governor in the parade in recent memory, Arisman said.
“It’s an honor to have the governor here,” she said. “This is the perfect place to be on the Fourth of July. I think the crowd enjoyed having him here.”
The festival also included “Fox & Friends” meteorologist Maria Molina, who covered the event for the Fox News Channel. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade signed his book, George Washington and the Secret Six.
The parade, which has been held for more than 40 years, draws people from around the nation. Andy Guthrie, from Columbus, said he attends every year to visit his in-laws, who live in the heart of Centerville.
“There must be 17 of us,” said Dan Bukey, Guthrie’s father-in-law. “It’s so much fun to have all our family here.”
The Fox News Channel highlighted the Americana Festival as part of its July Fourth edition. A story aired in the morning and can be viewed on the Fox & Friends website.
“It makes me feel proud, just that (Americana) is getting coverage,” said Angela McNamara of Centerville.
The Wright B Flyer made an appearance and six Air Force Warhead planes flew overhead.
Festivities continued into the evening, with fireworks, a street fair, and a car show. There also was a 5K run.
“It’s a great event, nice people, easy to park, wonderful food up here, and a good afternoon,” said Mike Murphy, who showed his 1968 Camero SS at the car show. “And this year, the weather couldn’t be nicer.”
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