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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Members of a group of Revolutionary War re-enactors fired muskets at the start of the 12th annual Fourth of July Patriots Parade in Sugar Creek Center on July Fourth.

It's been a good 12 years, but it's time to retire, Jim Parsons said after this year's Fourth of July Patriot Parade.

Parsons and his organization, the Bella Vista Patriots, have sponsored the parade since the beginning. It's grown over the years and Parsons contends it's now the "biggest and best" parade in the state.

On Wednesday, July 4, the parade program listed 63 units ranging from a Cub Scout Pack to a 1943 Army half-track with Captain America on board. Some of the units didn't show, but there were also a few unexpected entries to balance it out, Parsons said.

Although many of the entries were from Bella Vista, some came from the surrounding area. Keynote speaker Lance Nutt, who retired as a Sgt. Major from the Marine Corps brought along a vehicle representing his nonprofit, Sheepdog Impact Assistance.

Sheepdog Impact originated in Rogers in 2010 and has spread nationally. According to its website, sheepdogia.org, the group has three missions: disaster response, outdoor adventures and holiday assistance. The programs are aimed at helping the sheepdogs which the website defines as "our nation's military, law enforcement, fire & rescue, and EMS professions -- society's protectors." One way to help is to give them the opportunity to serve others when disasters strike.

Parsons said organizing for the parade begins in April each year and, by May, it's a full-time job.

"I recognize, at 85, I have slowed down physically and mentally. There is a reason for retirement," he said.

Besides the groups that march in the parade, there is pre-parade entertainment. Usually, there's a dance group performing, but this year none of the dance groups could make it. Instead, he had the Lutheran Church band, as well as a bagpipe band, the Ozark Highlanders.

But before he could retire, he had to find the right people to take over the parade. He chose Tim and Julie Hull. He believes the city and the city's new advertising and promotions board will help, but he doesn't want the POA involved. The parade, he said, should be free and the POA charges fees for most of its projects.

Julie Hull said she will work with anyone who wants to help.

"We are going to do the legwork, behind the scenes," she said, "Jim will still be the master of ceremonies."

Hull said the parade will always be about patriotism. Her husband retired from the Navy and they have entered a float in the parade for the last several years.

"It won't stop our family float," she said.

She may turn over the float to her two sons while she and her husband concentrate on organizing the parade, she explained.

General News on 07/11/2018

Print Headline: Fourth of July parade marches into a new era

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