a pekin independence day

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this or not, but July 4th is kinda a big deal in Pekin. Our one town claim-to-fame is that we have the longest consecutive 4th of July celebration in the country. Our tiny town of 1400 people swells to about 15,000 on Independence Day. On a slow news day, you’ll even find a package or two about us on the national news outlets.

We headed down to the parade yesterday morning and grabbed our normal spots right alongside the main highway.

There were even more news outlets than normal swarming around (methinks the news folks were looking for a “where are they now” kinda thing after the tornado). My parents were interviewed by a Louisville station and there is at least one news video out there of me watching the parade.

There is a lot involved in the celebration each year (flea market, games and rides, Pekin Idol, fireworks) but the centerpiece is definitely the parade. As a kid growing up in Pekin, you’re pretty much guaranteed a spot in the parade every year (I was in it as a Girl Scout and a member of the color guard) and as an adult, it’s really fun to sit on the sidelines and watch all the small town fun go by.

This year, the parade was led by the Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels on his motorcycle. Politics aside, it’s pretty cool that our little tiny town pulls the Governor on the 4th of July.

Of course, there was a whole parade of tractors. Some old, big, and beautiful.

Followed by a whole gaggle of people driving their lawn tractors. Hey, whatever makes you proud, right?

And then there were the tractors that held the 4th of July Queen Candidates. That’s how we roll in the country.

Chester Cheetah was there. Random, right?

My alma mater’s tiny marching band was there, of course. Those flags the color guard is twirling? I bought those as part of the design of our 2001 marching band show. Glad to see they are still getting used.

There was definitely a theme of survival to the whole day. A lot of folks were really in celebration mode. We made it through the tornado, we’re still here, and we still have our traditions.

There were a lot of tornado war stories being shared. One of these guys lives across the street from our new house and the other lives directly behind him. His house took a direct hit. He just recently started rebuilding on the same land. He was telling us how he got a call from a family north of Cincinnati who found his photos and checks in their backyard the day after the storm.

After the parade wrapped up, Babyface and I walked the block or so over to the Pekin Park for the rest of the festivities. With such a small town, you wouldn’t expect such a nice park, but thanks to the 4th of July celebration, we have a huge outdoor space with an amphitheater, playground, basketball courts, and shelter houses. It’s a really nice asset to our small town (even when we aren’t in 4th of July mode).

As you would probably expect, we bee-lined it for the food stands.

Once we’d sufficiently had our fill of festival food, we headed over to the flea market. There were quite a few awesome antique/junk stands that we just couldn’t resist. We ended up getting a whole stack of amazing vintage tea towels and napkins, two vintage Canada magnets, plus an old red milk jug.

After about a half an hour of shopping, we lost all steam because of the weather. The temperature was miserable on its own. Combine it with large crowds in a small area and we got crazy uncomfortable, crazy quick.

But before we left, we had one very, very important task left to do. ELEPHANT EAR.

After much research on this topic, I think I’ve decided I’m more of a funnel cake girl than an elephant ear girl. Elephant ears are good, but I like the doughy/crunchy dynamic that is going on in the funnel cake.

We snacked on our elephant ear as we meandered our way out of the park and back to the car.

While I loved being out and experience the town on the holiday, it was definitely nice to get home, get in the pool and drink some cold beer.

Hope you had an amazing holiday!



  1. says

    I love that you’ve got pictures of the parade! I missed it this year and it was good to see some of it through you! My family is from Charlestown, IN and I remember going to the fireworks the 3rd of each July in Pekin, then getting up early on the 4th to attend the parade. Always a good time. Now that I live in Indianapolis, I don’t get to go during midweek 4th of July years, but we always make it for the weekend years. Looks like you had fun!

  2. says

    I just had to explain to a Canadian friend of mine what an elephant ear is. I was trying to figure out if they’re a Midwest thing, a US thing, or just something she’d happened to never hear about. Had Babyface heard of them before coming to the US?

    (I’m also a funnel cake girl. Elephant ears are tasty, but funnel cakes always wins.)

  3. says

    I too do not know what an elephant ear is, but I love me so funnel cake goodness :) You looked super cute in your holiday attire, and I love the milk jug you found! Lucky find indeed. Glad to see you guys are settling in to your hometown and making new traditions for yourselves.

  4. Betsy K says

    Awww, Pekin did have GREAT 4th of July events. I spent part of my childhood in that area, and even went to East Washington Elementary for a few years, and I still remember the parade and festivities there! So fun, thanks for sharing!

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