Pekin shines for 189th year

Editor Stephanie Taylor-Ferriell

The Town of Pekin shone as brightly as ever as it hosted the Oldest Consecutive Fourth of July Celebration in the Nation – for the 189th time.
There’s just something about this small town and its tradition that tugs at the heart, extending far beyond the town limits. Sona Miller lives near Owensboro, Kentucky, but she always comes to Pekin’s Fourth. This year, she did much more than attend, she was helping out by checking in parade entries Thursday morning.
When her cousin, Susan Lynch, called to register her daughter Lily, Miller’s son Nic and a friend for the parade, she discovered help was needed coordinating. She volunteered and Miller gladly helped out.
She’d love to see her small town adopt a Fourth of July tradition.
“I would love to see other cities model what happens here,” she said. “I tell people about Pekin and they say, ‘Really?’ I always encourage people to come. It’s just so neat.”
Lynch said she hopes more people will step up to help out. The Pekin Community Betterment Organization, which plans the festivities, is in need of volunteers. The idea that, without commitment from residents, the tradition could go by the wayside is “a scary thought. A very scary thought,” said Lynch. “It’s up to our generation and the generation coming up. If we don’t step up, we won’t have that record anymore.”
Parade Grand Marshal Roger Newlon downplayed his selection, saying he believes there are others more deserving of the honor than he. A local law enforcement officer who retired in December after serving as sheriff, Newlon called being grand marshal “the biggest honor of my career.”
The Pekin Fourth is “a lifelong tradition,” said Newlon. “There’s very few I’ve not been to.” He said he loves that while the spirit of the Fourth remains unchanged, each celebration is unique in its own way.



See more about this year's Fourth festival, including a story about this year's Pekin Fourth Queen, baby contest results, the Prince and Princess, parade winners and more in tonight's Salem Leader!


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