American Legion Auxiliary Unit Proud To Host Safety Harbor’s 4th of July Parade
The recent flap over the sponsorship of Safety Harbor’s Fourth of July festivities caused quite a bit of consternation among members of the city’s American Legion Auxiliary unit.
After speaking with officials from Unit #238, located on Main Street downtown, it’s easy to understand why.
The unit is the only one of its kind in the state – and, by all accounts, in the country – to host a city’s Independence Day parade, a fact that got lost in the confusion over an advertisement that incorrectly identified the sponsor of the event.
“We’ve been told we’re the only American Legion Auxiliary Unit in the country that hosts a Fourth of July parade,” former commander Jim Burgess told Safety Harbor Connect.
“Needless to say, we’re very proud of that fact.”
Burgess explained that the American Legion Auxiliary was founded in 1919 and works in conjunction with the national American Legion organization, although auxiliary posts operate autonomously from traditional Legion posts.
Auxiliary units are often involved in community functions, and that’s how Burgess said his wife, Ruth, came up with the idea to revive the annual parade in the city about seven years ago.
“Every town in Wisconsin hosted a Fourth of July parade, and people loved them, so I couldn’t understand why Safety Harbor didn’t have one anymore,” Ruth said. “I felt we needed to have one here.”
After meeting with City officials and working closely with Special Events Coordinator Joe Cooper, Burgess got approval for the unit to host the parade.
But a parade in the middle of the summer can be a daunting thing to pull off, and the first year there were more people in the parade than were actually lining the streets, according to the Burgesses.
“I think there were seven units in the parade and seven people on the sidewalks,” Ruth Burgess half-joked.
However in just five years, the parade has expanded to the point where this year they have to shut down part of Bayshore Boulevard and turn down organizations who want to participate in the procession down Main Street.
“In year two it grew quite a bit, and then the third year was the charm, when everything started to come together,” Ruth recalled.
“Now we have about 40 separate units in the parade, plus drum and bugle corps, the State Commander of the Legion, Congressman David Jolley, Cub Scouts, car clubs…you name it, our parade has it. We’re very happy to see it how it has grown so quickly.”
Ruth Burgess said she understands the confusion regarding the promotion of the parade and the city’s fireworks show that evening, and she holds no ill feelings for what is believed to be an honest mistake.
The main thing she’s concerned with is keeping the city’s Independence Day festivities going, regardless of who is organizing or sponsoring them.
“I plan on doing this for as long as I can and when I can’t do it any longer, hopefully I’ll pass it on to somebody else,” she said.
“To see all the red, white and blue lining Main Street, and the smiles on all the kids faces, that’s what the Fourth of July is supposed to be about. That’s what’s important.”
- City Makes Good on July 4th Parade Sponsorship Snafu
- Fireworks Sponsorship Sparks Debate in Safety Harbor
Did Blake sponsor the rain too?
No, Blake didn’t “sponsor” anything…too bad the city officials permitted him to misrepresent this, even on the city’s web page. (You have to wonder who is running this city.) Blake simply donated some money toward the cost of the fireworks…and then proceeded to claim to be the “presenter” of the entire Safety Harbor 4th of July Celebration. Apparently, his Very Important Personal (VIP) friends parked in the HANDICAP ONLY parking at the library, at Blake’s instruction…so much for good citizenship. Gee…Rick, did it ever occur to you that a wheelchair bound veteran might be prevented from parking in the HANDICAP parking because of you and your VIP friends, developers, and profiteers?