WELLSBURG - Wellsburg's weeklong celebration of Independence Day offered something for everyone, from several free concerts featuring a variety of music to competitions ranging from talent contests to oldstyle picnic games for children.
Teaming with local officials, businesses and many others, the Wellsburg 4th of July marked the holiday itself with a patriotic flag raising ceremony early that day, the Wendy's 5K Run-Walk, both Monday morning at the Wellsburg Town Square; games for children at the Betty Carr Recreation Site in the afternoon, and a bicycle-decorating contest held by the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club back at the town square.
All participants of the latter contest were invited to participate in the Wellsburg 4th of July Parade, which soon followed. Many of the parade-goers headed afterward to the Betty Carr Recreation Site.
PATRIOTIC?SPIRIT — Local children rode this patriotic floate entered in the Wellsburg Independence Day parade by volunteers with the Betty Carr Recreation Site. At the rear of the float was the message, “As Betty Carr would say, the children first.” Carr was a Brooke County teacher and playground superviser for the city for many years.
There they were entertained by disc jockey Jack Carbasho and winners of the Wellsburg All-American Idol Contest, a singing competition held earlier in the week, while they awaited the fireworks display.
During the parade, red, white and blue could be seen not only among the bicycles decked out by children in the Kiwanis contest, but also among several floats entered by area businesses and youth sports leagues.
Serving as parade marshal was Gene Camilletti, whose patriotic spirit earned him that position. Among causes supported by Camilletti is the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.
An Air Force veteran, Camilletti has been involved in collecting names and information about local veterans for the park and coordinated fundraisers for it.
Paradegoers were entertained by members of local dance studios and the Brooke High School marching band and dance team.
And greetings or candy were offered by many, including Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Attorney General Darrell McGraw, Mayor Sue Simonetti, other state, county and city officials; and members of several local fire and emergency departments.
Those who looked above at the parade's start observed an Army National Guard aircraft helping to kick off the procession with a military flyover.
Several paradegoers were asked what they enjoy most about the weeklong observance of America's birthday.
J.R. Battista of Wheeling said, "My favorite is the parade because I get to see my daughter Jeana in it every year. She's with the Studio dance school."
Janet Crawford of Wellsburg said, "The bands. They were awesome."
Through the sponsorship of several local businesses, free concerts held during the week featured musicians and bands performing traditional and contemporary Christian music, rock, rhythm and blues and country.
Joe Erlewine of Wellsburg said, "We listen to the bands and come for the fireworks. And I participated in the horseshoe tournament yesterday, so we enjoy a lot of the activities."
"The (Wellsburg 4th of July) committees does a great job," said his wife, Peggy.
Todd Richie, who chairs the event with help from Debbie Baker, Barbara Yoder and many others, said the events would not be possible if not for the hard work of his committee members, the sponsorship of many local businesses and support of the city.
The week's many other activities included a Guitar Hero contest, fishing, basketball and volleyball tournaments, a community picnic and the Anything That Floats Race, which pits the builders of unorthodox watercraft against each other in a race on the Ohio River.
Matt Serevicz of Wellsburg said it's the opportunity to see old friends and family members who have left the area, as the holiday celebration offers a great opportunity for reunions and homecomings.
"You see people come home every year," he said.
Robert Mack of Weirton was among the many former residents who returned for at least part of the celebration.
"We were on our way to Wheeling and we decided to stop for the parade. We're from Wellsburg and moved to Weirton about 12 years ago," he said.
Lois Hines of Weirton said she and her husband also had moved from Wellsburg years ago and felt it was time to return for the parade.
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