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You can lead a horse to a parade, and he will drink of his free will when he gets to the end of Mount Eden’s Fourth of July parade, which again is set for 10 a.m. Monday.
The parade route will be 8 miles long, stretching across three communities, from Harrisonville in the Waddy area, across KY 395 into Mount Eden and Southville.
“It’s a heck of a parade,” said Magistrate Tony Carriss, who lives in Mount Eden and has ridden in the parade for the past 22 years.
He’s especially excited about participating this year.
“I always enjoy throwing candy out to the kids, and this year, I’ll get to do it from a dune buggy!” he said.
What’s really amazing is that Carriss’ long tenure of more than two decades with the event does not even encompass half of the parade’s long history.
“How long have we been having it? Well, let’s see now, at least fifty years that I know of, and probably a lot longer than that,” said Doug Haggard, president of the Mount Eden Ruritan Club, the organization that puts on the parade.
Haggard chuckled as he talked about that.
The Ruritan Club may be the parade’s official organizer, he said, but really, it pretty much organizes itself.
“We don’t plan it, or announce it, or even advertise it,” he said. “Everybody just shows up.”
When Haggard said everybody, he means that literally.
It may seem to spectators that most of Mount Eden’s entire population of just less fewer 2,000 people are participating in the parade, with everything from fire trucks from every surrounding community, to floats from numerous churches, to kids riding colorfully decorated bicycles.
There are people riding in every kind of vehicle you can imagine, from antique cars, to 4-wheelers and motorcycles, to politicians perched in convertibles, with many of them, like Carriss, throwing candy to the crowd.
Then there are the horses, which are a sight to see just by themselves, Carriss said.
“There are hundreds of horses, people on horseback, horses and buggies, wagons, you name it,” he said.
There will be Quarter Horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, and draft horses, and Peggy Whitaker of Mount Eden said she hopes the miniature horses may make an appearance this year.
“There’s even one family that participates that drives an old-fashioned covered wagon,” she said.
Even though the parade has a good crowd all along its route, the best place to watch it is in the center of Mount Eden, Carriss said.
“We get a lot of Spencer County folks, too, because it’s right there on the line, but the most popular place is right in the center of town [Mount Eden] because that’s where a lot of the kids and the people hang out to watch the parade come through.”
Vivian Lisby of Mount Eden said this year, she may have to watch the parade from Carriss’s Grocery, where she works.
“We might keep the store open this year, so I might just be watching from there,” she said. “But I don’t mind. We will have a real good seat right here.”
Doug Herndon, Mount Eden Fire Chief, who will have a fire truck in the parade, as usual, said the participants enjoy the parade as much as the spectators.
“It’s just a long-time tradition around here; everybody loves it,” he said.
Lisby said she thinks that’s because the Fourth of July parade and the annual community Christmas party are the only events that are held in Mount Eden.
“Those two things are all that people in Mount Eden have to look forward to, so we really go all out,” she said.
Haggard agreed, saying that in addition to that, he thinks the mindset in Mount Eden is a contributing factor as well.
“We are a small community that is really close-knit,” he said. “People here enjoy getting together, so on the Fourth, we really make the most of it.”
Haggard said as much as he enjoys the parade, when the procession finally reaches its destination at the Old Mount Eden School, a trek that takes almost two and half hours, the fun is not over.
“Then the judging begins,” he said, laughing as he recalled years past.
“Everybody gets a trophy of some kind. We judge the floats, the horses, and even the kids’ bikes – they are all decorated. And the ruritan club passes out water, because everybody is hot and thirsty, but everybody’s happy.”
Whitaker said the parade is more elaborate than ever but regrets that the festivities of the past, when the Fourth of July event was in its heyday in the 1980s, have died down some.
“I guess people are busier now, but we used to make a day of it at the old school,” she said. “We used to have dinners and pageants and contests. We had the prettiest and ugliest men’s legs contests, and my husband [Kenny] even won one time,” she said with a chuckle. “That is, he won for the prettiest legs.”
When: 10 a.m., Monday
Where: 8 miles of KY 395 from Harrisonville to Southville
What: Floats, cars, horses, bikes, dignitaries