Communities showed that on the nation's day of independence, everybody loves a parade.
As the last of the bands and cars passed by at Canfield's Fourth of July parade Monday morning, Amy Chismar captured the feeling of the holiday.
"It's just like a Norman Rockwell day," she said, as her husband, Bob, and 14-year-old son Brian looked for other family members. "All the way through, this is just like old-time America here today."
On the Canfield village green and lots of other places in the Mahoning Valley, residents turned out for sun-drenched celebrations of the nation's birthday. It was a big day for parades, fireworks and concerts, with games, contests and some family gatherings mixed in.
"Our whole family is here," said Struthers resident Steve Seifert, waving a flag as he watched the city's parade, which included his grandson's championship youth baseball team.
"We've got the pool ready for this afternoon, and the yard looks like a campground with all the campers and tents we've got in it."
A time to reunite
In Canfield, police estimated that about 3,500 people crowded the downtown area to watch the parade and roam the square trying out food vendors and visiting with neighbors and friends.
"We got through the parade in record time, about an hour," said Canfield police officer Chuck Colucci.
It was a time for former town residents to come back and visit.
"I've been coming to this ever since my family moved here in 1957," said Brad McDevitt of Salem, in a concessions line with twin daughters Katie and Maggie, 11. They had run in the kids' race earlier in the day.
"The Fourth here is always great for the kids, and it's a good time to see a lot of people you know."
Reunions were also happening at the Canfield High Alumni Association tent.
"It's interesting to see who's here, and it's the only time some of them are around," said Lynne Bellish, who along with her husband, George, was collecting information from alumni for a Web site and contact list.
"We're doing anything we can to keep people informed about reunions and other events."
In Struthers, a smaller -- but still enthusiastic -- crowd lined the parade route turning from Sexton Street onto Poland Avenue. Participants threw candy to scrambling kids -- and to a few adults
"I'm sorry. We're out of candy," yelled a young man from a car carrying the homecoming and prom queens and kings from Struthers.
Joe and Vicky Demyan and their children watched the parade pass by Joe's towing and service business on Sexton.
They had just returned from Cleveland, where daughter Nicollete's 14-and-under Struthers Local softball team finished seventh in a big tournament there. Their son, Daniel, sprayed members of his baseball team -- at their request -- with a big water hose as they rode by on the bed of a truck.
"We were hoping we would get back in time, because this is one of the best parades around," Vicky Demyan said. "It's great because the whole community gets involved in it."