* * * * *
Amy Farha-Neary started celebrating the Fourth of July at breakfast. She ate red, white and blue doughnuts.
She wore the same colors in a sequined one-piece suit for the J.E. George Boulevard Parade in Omaha. White feathers lined her pant cuffs and a sparkly red, white and blue crown completed the look.
The outfit was her cousin's old dance costume, repurposed for the holiday.
“It's an oldie but a goodie,” she laughed. “Every year I dress up really goofy. My kids think it's hilarious.
“Sometimes you have to sacrifice for freedom and for fashion.”
The J.E. George parade was just one of the Fourth of July events happening across the metro area. Other celebrations included the annual Ralston parade. Both parades attract scores of spectators and, especially in an election year, a number of politicians.
Several neighborhoods and organizations planned fireworks displays Wednesday night.
Farha-Neary said she attended the J.E. George parade in the Memorial Park neighborhood as a child and now brings her three children, ages 10, 8 and 5. She said the parade is a fun way to celebrate the community, friends, family and the Fourth.
“I grew up doing that, so it's a tradition I want to keep up with my kids,” she said.
Hundreds lined the boulevard at 10 a.m. for the 62nd annual event. Mike and Jessica Cogswell brought their 10-month-old daughter, Lauren.
“We came last year when I was pregnant,” Jessica said. “So we decided to make it a tradition.”
The day had grown hotter by the time the Ralston parade started at 1 p.m. The air smelled like sunscreen. There were almost as many water bottles and coolers as people on the sidewalks.
Several groups set up chairs under umbrellas and awnings to watch the parade and escape the sun. The crowd applauded veterans and police, fire and rescue personnel as they marched or drove by.
Kids with face paint and outstretched hands scrambled for candy tossed into the crowd.
Mark Heavrin watched the floats amble by with a group of about 30 friends and family members.
“I come every year. It's a great parade, and the weather is terrific,” he said from his spot in the shade.
Heavrin said he planned to grill hamburgers and bratwursts later in the afternoon and shoot off fireworks with his grandkids.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle, U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing and City Councilman Pete Festersen marched in the J.E. George parade. So did former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey and State Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, both of whom are running for the U.S. Senate.
“It's Fourth of July. That's what this is all about,” Fischer said. “Family, friends, community, and the J.E. George parade is a great example of it.”
Kerrey said he was glad to spend the holiday in Omaha.
“It's a great crowd and a fun celebration,” he said.
Suttle, Terry, Ewing, Kerrey and Fischer also attended the Ralston parade, as did Gov. Dave Heineman.
Contact the writer: