H-E-B Plus Parade teaches patriotism to youngsters
July 4, 2012 at 2:04 a.m.
Some people celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks or barbecuing with friends, maybe enjoying a beer or two.
Others, such as Michael Simpson, of Victoria, much prefer to deck out their wheels with red, white and blue leis, maybe add an American flag and a big balloon - just to make sure he is noticed by all the ladies.
Michael, 3, is like dozens of other kids who decided to celebrate 236 years of American democracy by pedaling as hard as he could - on his tricycle - at the H-E-B Plus Fourth of July Parade.
"I am going to go fast," Michael said, feet at the ready on the pedals. "But we have to follow the other boys and girls," he added after a look from his grandmother, Belinda Simpson.
Belinda spent the better part of a night decorating the wagon and tricycle for her two grandchildren, Michael and Raquel Simpson, 2.
The children were quick to point out; however, that they picked out the bling for their entries themselves, with wagon and tricycle decked out in large American flags, blue ribbons, balloons and sparkly patriotic stickers. The duo even sported patriotic clothing - red sunglasses, striped hats and American flag face stickers.
And Michael did indeed get noticed by the ladies, or at least the judges, with the duo pulling in a second-place trophy for the 2-4 age division.
But the parade is not just about who has the most patriotic ride, said Doug Wallace, general manager for H-E-B Plus.
"We always want to give back to our community, but to have an event focused on our kids is great because it teaches them lessons at an early age. Lessons about our troops and the sacrifices they have made for us," Wallace said.
To that end, the Victoria County Veterans Council started the parade by presenting the colors.
And Michael, though excited about the coming competition, seemed to understand the value of Independence Day as he respectfully placed his hand over his heart for the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, closely mimicking his grandmother.
As the parade took off, children ages 2-12 circled the parking lot, waving flags and tooting the horns on their wagons, tricycles and bicycles, excited to show their patriotism - and possibly win a prize.
"I'm here because I want to celebrate July Fourth with all the people at H-E-B," said Kyri Abram, 9, of Victoria. "I'm also hoping to get first place," he whispered, grinning.
Kyri decorated his bike mostly by himself, he said proudly, with a little bit of help from his grandmother.
He buzzed around the parking lot, showing off his bike trimmed out in American flags and red, white and blue tape. Kyri took home second place in his age division.
Even royalty showed up for the parade, with the Miss Victoria Court in full regalia.
"We are here to support our troops on the Fourth of July," said Miss Victoria, Kelsey Thomas. "It is our last event before we give up our crowns."
The Victoria Police Department and Fire Department also came for the parade, beginning the event with sirens and ending with Fire truck Engine No 4.
After the award ceremony, where trophies were presented to the winners, H-E-B offered goody bags to the other children, as well face paintings and Coke floats.
Michael and Raquel, scooping Coke float out of their cups, were excited about their trophy - and about what it means to be a child growing up in America.