The Town of Loxahatchee Groves held its first ever Independence Day parade and picnic on Saturday, July 6, with coffee and donuts beforehand and a picnic afterward at Loxahatchee Groves Park at East Citrus Drive and E Road.
The parade had several dozen entries with decorated backhoes, tractors towing wagons, horses, ATVs driven by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and Florida Division of Forestry wildland firefighters, beginning and ending at the park.
The event culminated in a picnic lunch at a park pavilion with hamburgers, hot dogs, sno-cones and other treats for participants and spectators, with live entertainment by local singer and guitarist Tom Blake.
Mayor Robert Shorr had suggested that the town have its own local parade, and the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council agreed, funding more than $3,000 for parade expenses, with the council serving as the parade committee.
“I grew up in Greenacres in the 1960s and 1970s, and I rode my bike in the parade,” Shorr said. “I was 10 years old. Those small-town memories, a parade, the Fourth of July, riding my bike in it — I thought it would be nice doing something like that for the kids in our town. We had a lot of kids participate, so it was really nice.”
Shorr said the goal was to get residents involved, although it was on somewhat short notice. “Next year, it’s going to be quite a bit bigger,” Shorr said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Councilwoman Laura Danowski noted that it was the first parade sponsored by the town, although the Loxahatchee Groves Landowners’ Association has hosted at least two previous parades, one being a celebration of the town’s incorporation.
In the parade, Danowski drove a tractor draped with red, white and blue bunting, equipped with a front-end loader that she uses primarily for grading her horse ring and maintaining her farm.
“I am over-the-moon happy with how everything turned out,” Danowski said. “There are a couple of things that we can definitely do better next time. I was also happy with how many people came to the park afterward.”
Danowski gave credit to long-time resident and town legislative consultant Mary McNicholas for help with details, including preparation of the food table with the assistance of LGLA Vice President Virginia Standish.
“[McNicholas] was a volunteer and did everything from food shopping to pricing some of the handouts,” she said. “She was a great big help.”
Danowski said she would like the next event to be in October, with a fall theme that does not conflict with other holiday events in the area.
Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey, owner of Oak Hammock Farm, rode her horse Harold in the parade with riders Erica Bayes and Kaycee Schneider.
“I think, for the first time and such short notice, it was well-received, and it was an enthusiastic crowd,” El-Ramey said.
LGLA President Marge Herzog enjoyed the first town-sponsored parade, and she hopes to see more of them.
The parade route was along Citrus east to F Road, north to 60th Court North, west to E Road and back south to the park.
“I recommended that they do it within our road-controlled boundaries because on Okeechobee [Blvd.], you’ve got to jump through hoops to get the county to let you use it,” Herzog said. “Then you’ve got to have the sheriff’s office involved with closures of roads and diverting traffic. We did it Loxahatchee-style. I thought it was very good.”
Awards were given to several entries. Best Equestrian went to Oak Hammock Farm, Best Float was given to Good Earth Farm, Best Business went to Accurate Farms, Best Golf Cart was given to Big Dog Ranch Rescue and Best Tractor went to “Captain America” Thomas Schweizer.