The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 7, 2013

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Annual neighborhood parade now on second generation

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Only 361 days until the next Fourth of July, but no planning is necessary. My family and the families in my childhood neighborhood know exactly where we’ll be.

At 9:25 a.m., about 100 kids ages 0 to 98 will be gathering on bikes, in miniature motorized jeeps, on scooters and on foot at a picturesque island in the road at the junction of Elmwood, Crestwood and Oakcrest.

We’ve been doing so for 35 years.

The annual Fourth of July parade started as the brainchild of my mom, Janeil, when I was 9 and my brother, Neil, was 6. The daughter of Duquesne-Joplin history teacher Georgia Atterbury, Mom also was a teacher and inherited Grandma’s deep patriotism. She sensed that a 10 p.m. fireworks show meant an awfully long time to wait for youngsters in the neighborhood who were excited about the holiday.

So Mom created an original hand-lettered flier inviting revelers of all ages to participate and delivered it door to door, and she gathered her cherished collection of flags, including a 48-star flag and a bicentennial flag, for us to carry.

My brother and I were among a handful of kids who waved flags, rattled noisemakers and walked the two-block parade route that first year. We were led by World War I veteran and neighbor Hank Geier, who took great pride in donning his veteran’s cap and a special grand marshal badge crafted by Mom.

Neighbors along the route set out their lawn chairs and clapped as we proudly marched by. Everyone then gathered in our backyard, where Mom set out a wooden folding table with lemonade and plates of “fancy” store-bought cookies. We capped off the celebration by saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “Happy Birthday” to America.

That pattern still is repeated today. As we’ve grown, we’ve changed only what we wear or our method of transport.

At age 10, I walked as the Statue of Liberty and repeated the costume for the 25th parade.

In junior high, with a twist of irony I rode a neighbor’s tandem bike with my best friend, who had emigrated from England.

I’ve walked the parade twice pregnant, twice pushing a stroller and twice pulling a wagon with my sons.

My brother has kept the beat for the parade with his snare drum for more than two decades, and 13 years ago his high school best friend, Derek Sharp, and Derek’s 9-year-old son, Alex, joined in with their drums. Derek’s wife, Stephanie, and their children now live in Topeka, but they return year after year in matching tie-dyed T-shirts especially for the occasion. Alex, now 21, will be married in August, and brought his bride-to-be to walk in the parade.

Among the oldest revelers year after year: My husband’s grandmother, Emma Stefanoni, now 97, and the Spirit of Pittsburg, Jack Overman, now 95.

The only significant annual change is the grand marshal, as Hank passed on. Each year, Mom puts a great deal of thought into choosing a new one. The year after my oldest son was born, it was my husband’s grandfather, a World War II veteran. The year after 9/11, it was a neighborhood firefighter. This year, it was a neighbor who has helped build 10 homes for Habitat for Humanity.

As for that handful of neighborhood kids who first marched 35 years ago, we still show up at 9:25 a.m. Some travel several hours to get here. We still wear Uncle Sam hats and carry noisemakers and wear red, white and blue, but now we are taller and are holding the hands of a new generation of paraders.

I imagine that when my sons are grown and perhaps holding young hands of their own, each Fourth of July, Mom will still be bounding down her front steps at 9:25 a.m., ringing her school bell loudly and shouting, “Let’s have a parade” to signal it’s time to assemble.

We’ll see you at the island.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • r072814dogbike.jpg Cross-country trip promotes animal adoption

    Where’s Bixby? Not the town in Oklahoma, but the dog on the back of a bicycle ridden by Mike Minnick. On Monday, the two were in Joplin, one stop on a cross-country bike trip to promote the adoption of dogs and cats from local shelters.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4.3 magnitude quake reported in northern Oklahoma

    The U.S. Geological Survey says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 struck northern Oklahoma on Monday night.

    July 29, 2014

  • 4 workers injured in SE Kansas oil refinery fire

    A Texas company says four workers at a southeast Kansas oil refinery were burned in an early morning fire.

    July 29, 2014

  • Seneca man draws concurrent term in sexual abuse case

    A 39-year-old man who sexually abused a girl over a four-year period in both Joplin and Seneca received a 15-year sentence Monday in Newton County that will run concurrently with a term he received earlier this year in Jasper County.

    July 28, 2014

  • Judge lifts seal on records in Parsons quadruple slaying

    A judge has rescinded his order sealing court records in the case of David Bennett Jr., who is accused of killing a Parsons woman and her three children.

    July 28, 2014

  • Defendant who pulled knife on ER doctor sent for treatment

    A man accused of pulling a knife on a Freeman Hospital West emergency room doctor pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday and was sentenced to the state prison system’s Institutional Treatment Center.

    July 28, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to build second local Neighborhood Market

    A second Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store is planned for Joplin. The company has filed an application with the city to rezone nearly six acres of land on the west side of town in the tornado zone to build a new Neighborhood Market and gas station.

    July 28, 2014

  • r072814mailcar.jpg VIDEO: Train mail car trailered on Joplin's Main Street to Redings Mill

    With a police escort leading the way Monday, postal car No. 34 breezed through downtown Joplin en route to its new home in Redings Mill, where it was greeted by a welcome party of local residents and railroad enthusiasts.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter