ST. GEORGE – Freedom rang through St. George Friday as spectators lined the streets wearing red, white and blue to celebrate Independence Day.
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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
The Uncle Sam 5K at the Dixie Sun Bowl signaled the start of St. George’s Fourth of July celebration at 6:30 a.m. The “It’s a Grand Ol’ Flag” parade began at 8 a.m. once all the runners had crossed the finish line.
More than 300 runners signed up to run for freedom in the Uncle Sam 5K doubling the number of runners from last year.
“This race is really unique. Everyone who ran got a beard and blue tuxedo shirts,” Aaron Metler, recreation coordinator for the City of St. George, said.
Sam Picklesimer, from New York City, ran with his wife, Andrea, and said he was excited about wearing an itchy but “awesome beard.”
Metler said he wanted this year’s race to be an enjoyable family event. Many participants ran hand-in-hand with toddlers while pushing strollers.
Greg and Melissa Anjewierden, from Salt Lake City, ran with their 3-year-old son, who today crossed the finish line of his very first 5K race. They said they anticipate buying him running shoes sooner rather than later.
“In the future, this could be hundreds of thousands of people running down the parade route in Uncle Sam costumes,” Metler said. “It ‘s a great way to kick off the city’s Fourth of July celebration.”
The “It’s a Grand Ol’ Flag” parade began on 200 West and ended at Vernon Worthen Park. The Marine Corps League, Utah Dixie Detachment #1270, led the parade carrying the United States Flag high and proud.
“We take what we are doing in the parade very seriously,” Bille Toole, public affairs officer, said.
The Marine Corps League, Utah Dixie Detachment #1270, has 70-80 members and is the largest Marine Corps League Detachment in the state of Utah. They support Toys for Tots, the veterans home in Ivins, and Devil Pups – an organization that takes youth ages 14-17 to Camp Pendleton to be educated about what it means to be an American.
“We always have fun with people of kindred spirit. We love this country first and love the Corps second,” Toole said.
The Fourth of July celebration in St. George will continue at 6 p.m. with a magic show at the Dixie Sun Bowl, and 99.9 KONY Country and the City of St. George are sponsoring a free concert for the public at 8 p.m., also in the Sun Bowl. At 10 p.m., there will be a firework show that can be seen from vantage points around the city.
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