Putting on the Party Clothes as U.S. turns 238: Knollwood Parade puts patriotism on display

Published on Friday, 4 July 2014 23:46 - Written by Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

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As this nation celebrated its 238th birthday, about 100 people gathered in the Knollwood community to commemorate the Independence Day with a parade.

The Flint-Gresham Volunteer Fire Department led the 19th Annual Knollwood subdivision parade as they have for the past 16 years bringing three vehicles including a fire engine and rescue truck.

With sirens blaring, the trucks started the parade and children on patriotically decorated bicycles and battery-powered toy cars followed behind along with other residents who walked.

The purpose of the event was a simple one for founder and organizer Diane Knowles.

“To remind people of the sacrifices that have been made for their freedom,” she said. “Freedom is not free.”

Tosha Hawkins, 14, a Robert E. Lee High School sophomore, came out with her brother, T.J., 12, and sister, Kyanna, 8. She said they’ve been participating in the parade for several years.

“I think it’s fun and a good way to get out and see everyone,” Tosha said.

A group of four women from Utah witnessed their first Knollwood Fourth of July parade as temporary East Texas residents.

Courteney Rogers, 26; Dani Onkes, 23; Andrea Budd, 26; and Maci Bingham, 21, moved to Tyler in April and will stay here through August while their husbands sell home security systems.

The women had heard about the community parade and wanted to see what it was all about.

Scott and Karen Luhrs came out to their fifth parade accompanied by their two daughters, Anne, 8, and Abby, 5, and Mrs. Luhrs’ mother, Linda Smith.

Mrs. Luhrs, 32, a housewife, said their daughters got up early and decorated their bikes for the parade. Later on in the day they planned to enjoy a block party in the neighborhood.

Luhrs, 33, an operations manager, said it’s fun to celebrate the Fourth of July with the community — family, friends and neighbors.

Mother and son Rebekah and Peyton Marshall rode bicycles in the parade.

“I love it,” Mrs. Marshall, 34, who works in early childhood intervention, said. “It’s welcoming to the neighborhood and other neighborhoods get involved, too.”

As the parade made its way down the street, many residents who did not walk or ride in it sat on their porches or stood on the side of the street to watch.

Joanie and Buford Collier have watched for the past seven years. They said the first year they moved into their house, they didn’t know about the parade and were startled when they heard the sirens from the fire trucks.

Every year since then though, they’ve know what to expect and they’re happy to enjoy it.

“I think it’s great for our neighborhood,” Mrs. Buford, 56, a housewife and Alzheimer’s Alliance volunteer, said.

Across the street from the Bufords, Avon and Dick Adams had a potluck breakfast in the backyard prior to watching the parade.

Mrs. Adams, 71, a retired educator turned homemaker, said this is their 14th year to do this and they had 23 people over for it.

“I just think it’s wonderful,” she said of the parade. “We always have a great time and the Lord was good today. We had perfect weather.”

Ms. Knowles said she appreciates the participation of the Flint-Gresham Volunteer Fire Department. The parade honors their service to the community in addition to Independence Day, she said.

In addition, she thanked Ed and Joyce Grounds for their help with refreshments. Grounds, a longtime Brookshire’s employee, purchased Goldenbrook Ice Cream for the guests. The ice cream complemented the free cookies made by Jean Roe and punch. The annual parade is open to the public.