Neighborhood July 4th parade brings crowds to Durham's Oval Park

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Monday, July 4, 2022
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The 73rd annual Watts Hospital-Hillandale Independence Day parade brought a happy crowd to Durham's Oval Park. The first one, organized by Alice and Tom Walker set the pace for the parades that followed.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The 73rd annual Watts Hospital-Hillandale Independence Day parade brought a happy crowd to Durham's Oval Park. The first one, organized by Alice and Tom Walker set the pace for the parades that followed.

Tom Miller, coordinator of this years parade, said July weather during those early days inspired the Walkers.

"In 1950, no air conditioning. Kids are hot and sweaty and mopey. What do we do? And they organized the neighborhood kids into a parade," Miller said. "They said the Pledge of Allegiance, they sang America the Beautiful and the Star-Spangled Banner, and then they had a cold drink of pop. But the kids remembered, they forced the parents into doing it and pretty soon it got bigger and bigger and bigger."

There were flags of many nations and states displayed at the park as the parade made its way down Club Boulevard, escorted by first responders. One of them, an American flag more than a century old, belongs to Miller.

"That flag was purchased by my great grandfather in 1898. It is very tender; it's made out of wool. We pull it out once a year and hang it up," he said.

It was part of a colorful backdrop for the celebration, where participants continued the customs established more than seven decades ago.

Here are some facts about Independence Day and what happened before and after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1) The Continental Congress signed the document in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

2) According to History.com, the declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts.

3) The vote for independence actually took place on July 2.

4) With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the United States officially became a free and independent nation.

5) The three people who signed the Declaration of Independence from North Carolina were William Hooper, Joseph Hewes and John Penn.