SALEM - Participants pranced and swam, barked and bleated and looked incredibly cute and patriotic as Salem's annual Fourth of July tradition of parading pets and vehicles kicked off.
"It makes the Fourth of July special for the kids," Salem resident Joan Cole said. "They enjoy getting ready for it."
The two parades continued this year under new leadership, with Salem Saxon Club bingo manager Annette Jermolenko and the bingo committee picking up where former Salem councilwoman Mary Lou Popa left off.
Denver Patterson, 9 months, of Salem, gives a cheer for the USA at the decorated vehicles parade in Salem Friday. The parade featured bikes, trikes, scooters, wagons, tractors and even a battery-powered car. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Popa announced a couple weeks ago that she was stepping away from the parade events she spearheaded for many years, with Mayor John Berlin putting out a plea for someone to step forward. Jermolenko and committee announced last week that the parades would take place on the holiday as usual, with the time moved to the morning.
Cole said her grandchildren take part every year and had already planned on it when they heard the decorated vehicles parade and pet parade were cancelled. Then they heard they were back on and got busy decorating their bikes.
Dr. Vickey Brooks, owner of Adamson Veterinary Services, served as both a sponsor and a judge, saying how much she loved seeing the kids out there, so excited. When asked what a judge looks for in a pet parade, she said she looks at how happy the pets are and what kind of relationship they appear to have with their owner.
She saw lots of smiles and remarked that she's heard that "dogs learn to smile from their owners."
The pet parade featured lots of dogs, but also a fish and three goats. The decorated vehicles parade featured everything from bikes and trikes to tractors, wagons, scooters and a classic battery-powered Mustang.
Other judges included Barbara Spack of the Saxon Club and Timothy William Howard. Besides the trophies provided by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and Zeigler's Trophies given to the winners, each participant received a goody bag full of donated treats and gifts.
Besides the Salem Saxon Club Bingo and Scholarship Committees, Adamson Veterinary Services, the Chamber and Zeigler's Trophies, other sponsors included Herron Foods (Utz), Family Video, McDonald's, Walmart, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, attorney Geoff Goll, Dairy King on Pidgeon Road, Dairy Queen at Georgetown and State, the Salem Mayor's Office and Saxon Club Branch 18 & 19.
Winners in the pet parade were: Best Family Group and Most Unusual, Jessica Slocum and baby goats Tinkerbell and G Scope Jr.; Toughest Pet, Lily Strabala; Best Lookalike, Lily Secrest and Gizzie the goat; Furriest, Megan Miller; Cutest, Twila Lora; Best Dressed and Largest, Buffy Leininger; and Smallest, Darrick Patterson and Flash the fish.
Winners in the decorated vehicle parade by age group included: up to 3 years old, Denver Patterson, first; Lily Strabala, second; and Victoria Croxall, third; 4 to 6 years old, Hayden Johnston, first; Darrick Patterson, second; and Andrew Croxall, third; 7 years old and above, Brendan Cole, first; and Megan Miller, second.