NORWOOD Chad N. Mason Jr. had his face painted one-third red, one-third white and one-third blue at Wednesday mornings fourth of July parade in Norwood.
The 10-year-old from Winthrop was showing support for his country on its 236th birthday. He and his brother stood along the street to watch the parades floats, bands and emergency responders pass by and distribute candy.
I think its important to show that you love your country and you care about it, Chad said.
He was joined by more than 5,000 others who crowded the villages sidewalks several deep to see the parade thats more than three times the population of Norwood.
This truly exemplifies the spirit of America at its best, Mayor James H. McFaddin said. Im constantly being asked, How can Norwood put on the activities they do? Theres a spirit of volunteerism in the village. Theres a spirit of community here.
The parade has grown from 10 firetrucks, one float and a firemens band several years ago to 27 floats, three bands, 17 fire departments and three rescue squads in 2012, according to organizer Robert C. Haggett. More than 800 marched in Wednesdays event, including a group of 50 in support of Garrett J. Phillips, the 12-year-old Potsdam boy slain last year.
Mr. Haggett has seen the parade length grow from 10 minutes to more than an hour during his tenure as organizer.
We probably had the best parade yet, Mr. Haggett said afterward. Norwood has been known for July Fourth for 77 years.
The parades theme was Walt Disneys Magic Kingdom. Snow White rode in a Model T Ford, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck were in a separate float, and children dressed as Beauty and the Beast characters filled a third vehicle.
The event occurred just in time, as the early afternoons sunshine gave way to a downpour after the parade. Additional festivities at the Morgan Street Firemens Field and fireworks sponsored by the Norwood Volunteer Fire Department were scheduled for later in the day.
Massena resident Gail M. Carriere, 70, has not missed the parade in more than 40 years. Wednesday was her birthday.
Its a chance for everyone to come out and get together and have fun, she said. Especially on my birthday, it makes it even greater. I have something to celebrate.
Potsdam Trustee Ruth F. Garner, serving as grand marshal, attended Norwoods first parade 77 years ago. She had returned home that summer from nursing school and saw her future husband, George, marching as a firefighter.
The Great Depression was in full swing that summer.
Ms. Garner will turn 97 in the fall and was glad to return this year. People like parades, she said. Where can you go except those small towns where theres such an intimacy? Its very difficult to sustain something like that and have it be so successful for so long.