The smell of sunscreen filled the air Thursday as people streamed into downtown to watch Bloomington’s annual Fourth of July parade.
Paradegoers young and old crowded the sidewalks with camp chairs and coolers to watch the procession in 80 degree heat. People milled about the empty streets, listening to the Bloomington Community Band on the courthouse lawn or a performance of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by a wandering quartet.
Almost 100 organizations participated in Thursday’s parade, according to the City of Bloomington website. The parade started at 10 a.m. at the corner of Seventh Street and Indiana Avenue, going west into downtown and then turning back to end at the intersection of Kirkwood and Indiana Avenues.
The Boy Scouts of America lead the procession. Scouts from Troop 100 spread out a large American flag between themselves while others held signs asking people to stand.
Monroe County law enforcement and emergency services personnel followed in their vehicles, flashing their lights and blaring their sirens as they and their families waved to the crowd. Someone dressed as a giant dalmatian in firefighter clothes danced behind the trucks to “Who Let the Dogs Out?”
Parade participants handed out stickers, bracelets, toys, water and candy to children. As employees of Domino’s Pizza passed by the corner of College Avenue and Sixth Street, a young boy yelled out, “Can I get a free pizza?” He did not.
Teresa Boruff-Young grew up in Bloomington. She was sitting at the corner of Washington Street and Kirkwood Avenue, waiting for her daughter to pass her by.
“I come every year,” she said.
This year her daughter was in the parade as a member of Cardinal Stage, a Bloomington-based theater company. The group performed a dance number from the theater’s upcoming December show, “Newsies.”
Students from both Bloomington high schools played in a marching band. Gymnasts flipped and cartwheeled in the street, wearing gloves to protect their hands from the rough pavement. B-Town Boxing blared the “Rocky” theme from its Jeep.
Reverse Citizens United, a group that protests corporate money in politics, carried a giant black octopus with black tubing as tentacles. The tentacles reached out to signs that carried the names of government institutions.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Citizens United has got to go,” they chanted.
Standing atop a truck with “Beanpole is the God of Pointless Behavior” signs, a man wearing a clown wig and a white robe with a stick figure drawing on it spoke to the crowd through a megaphone.
“Not everything has to make sense,” he said. “We have the right to be ridiculous.”
George and Jodie Fielding set up their lawn chairs near the corner of Lincoln Street and Kirkwood Avenue. George said in recent years the public had not been interested in the parade.
“The main thing is it’s a nice day,” George said.
Jodie said the couple has been coming to the parade regularly for the last few years ever since their kids moved out.
“It’s tradition,” she said.