PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Parades are a big part of the Fourth of July holiday here in western Pennsylvania.
Thousands of people lined the streets for a parade in Brentwood.
It was also the 34th annual running of the Brentwood Firecracker 5K. Devoted runners come back year after year to pound the steaming pavement of Brownsville Road as friends and family cheer them on.
“I think a lot of people here, you’ll find they come back because of the tradition that they’ve been running this race since they were young people, and they love to come back here and run again,” Rich Wright with the Brentwood race committee said.
The Firecracker 5K has built a reputation for attracting more than your Sunday afternoon jogger.
“We get elite runners. We’ve had marathon winners,” race director Kira Kellner said. “We’ve had ironmen, tri-athletes. We have 2-year-olds in strollers and dogs, and we get everyone from aged six months to our oldest runner this year is 78 years old. And everybody in between.”
The band follows the runners with Civil War reenactors in full dress blue as the heat index continues to rise. But residents and natives show up rain or shine.
“You walk along the parade. I did when I was younger. We walked along the parade route from beginning to end and knew mostly everybody,” Brentwood native Mary Ellen Brancolini said. “And now my daughter lives on Brownsville Road, so we come here every Fourth of July. It’s déjà vu.”
Meanwhile, Canonsburg celebrated the 55th anniversary of their Fourth of July parade in style.
An Air Force flyover was one of the parade’s highlights, and who would doubt the town deserves the honors? It’s the second largest Independence Day parade in the state of Pennsylvania.
The town more than doubles in size as spectators line the sidewalks in those famous chairs that many put out ahead of time to save a spot.
“We are lucky enough to be friends of the owner of the dry cleaners, which makes it convenient that we could come and put chairs this morning, so we didn’t have to come early or anything,” Erin Knizner said.
The parade also has a somber tone as the community remembers the service of Canonsburg police officer Scott Bashioum, who was shot down in the line of duty last November. T-shirts were sold to support his family.
“The response from the people of Canonsburg has been absolutely amazing,” Mike Phillips, president of the Canonsburg Fraternal Order of Police, said. “As you can see from all the people that come out to the yearly parade, this town really supports the police and gets behind all first responders … It’s such a tragedy, and with the fact that we’ve come together, we’ve been able to get through it.”
For one reason or another, the Fourth of July parade brings residents, former residents and people who never were residents together as one.
Among the spectators, a gentleman who says he wouldn’t miss a Canonsburg parade for anything, and he means it. Tom Pallaria has attended all 55 Canonsburg Fourth of July parades.