EAST BEND — East Bend will celebrate Independence Day with its 27th annual God and Country Day on July 1. The event has become a much beloved tradition in the community that begins early in the day with a parade and culminates in the evening with a fireworks display.
The parade is in 27th year, but the history of a grand parade in East Bend dates back much further. In the early 1900s buggy maker J.G. Huff established a fiddlers convention in celebration of the July 4 holiday, which began with a parade.
This year’s God and Country parade, which typically features a multitude of patriotic floats, fire trucks, tractors and more, will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the route going straight down Main Street. The grand marshal for the parade will be Melvin “Mel” Speas. A native of nearby Tobaccoville, Speas moved to East Bend in 1960. He is a U.S. Army veteran, past commander of American Legion Post 336 and member of the Honor Guard. Speas served as a member of the East Bend Fire Department for 25 years. He is also well-known for his musical talents.
Following the parade, the celebration will continue at the East Bend School grounds with craft vendors, children’s activities and more. Food vendors on site will offer a variety of items from hamburgers and hot dogs to BBQ and homemade ice cream.
The opening ceremony is slated for 11:15 a.m. and will include a special service honoring veterans. Parade winners also will be announced.
During the afternoon, the East Bend Fire Department will turn on the fire hoses to give kids a fun way to cool off.
Guest speakers and musicians will perform throughout the day. An evening service with the Rev. Robin Speaks will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. at the ball field behind the East Bend Senior Center.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.