Bend Area celebrates July 4th

The Wahama White Falcon Marching Band played a patriotic tune for the crowds.

BEND AREA — The Bend Area celebrated Independence Day and the local veterans with a day of festivities.

The events kicked off with a parade in New Haven. Roberta Hysell, town recorder, said the festivities are to celebrate the veterans and independence, but seeing the smiling faces enjoying the parade is another reason the parade is important to her.

“I just like to dedicate to the veterans,” Hysell said. “People really love to come out and watch it. It means a lot to me for them to have something to watch here in our town. I just love seeing people out and smiling and having fun.”

After the parade, residents gathered at the veterans’ memorial at the New Haven fire station for a ceremony to honor two local World War II veterans. Members of the American Legion Smith-Capehart Post 140 brought American flags in presentation boxes as a gift to thank and honor veterans Carl Gibbs and Harold Bumgarner for their service to their country. Bumgarner was unable to attend the ceremony

“Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, signers of the Declaration of Independence boldly asserted that all [men] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” David Sigman, American Legion Smith-Capehart Post 140 commander said. “With these words, our forefathers formed a new nation and put forth a vision of Liberty and democracy that would forever alter history. Every Fourth of July, Americans celebrate this pivotal moment in our history which set into motion the development of a land of freedom and opportunity unequaled in the world.”

Carl Gibbs, 89, served in the Marine Corps during World War II and fought in three battles in the Pacific. While overseas, he was wounded and earned a Purple Heart. At the end of the war, Gibbs was part of the occupation of the atomic bomb area in Nagasaki, Japan.

Gibbs said he enjoyed the parade and is thankful for his freedom to come out and watch the festivities.

“It was beautiful, watching the parade,” Gibbs said. “Ninety years old and being able to do this is a blessing from the Lord.”

Gibbs said he remembers his time in the service and said, for him, remembering there has not been another war like WWII is another reason to celebrate freedom.

“It’s the greatest for me to know all of the veterans and the Lord in WWII, we haven’t had anything like that since, and I just praise the Lord for it,” Gibbs said. “For everything that’s been accomplished, I always thank the Lord for it because he’s in control.”

After the ceremony, the Bend Area community came out to Mason’s Fourth of July Parade, which ended at the Stewart-Johnson VFW/Lottie Jenks Memorial Park, where the town and the Stewart-Johnson VFW Post 9926 had set up bounce houses, moon jumps, firetruck tours, food and games for residents. Donna Dennis, the mayor of Mason, said she was glad the town was able to spend part of the holiday together.

“I think it’s nice to bring the town together and let everybody celebrate our Independence Day together and to come together as a town.” Dennis said. “We have a really great local VFW who is involved in everything the town does. They come down for all of the parades. One of our VFW members is actually a council member, so he helps organize all of our events and gets the VFW involved.”

Ray Varian, council member and VFW member, said, “Being a veteran, it’s just like we gave once and we’re still giving. It’s what veterans do. We work for the community. It’s just good to see so many people come out and enjoy what we’ve put together. It shows that they care and want something to look forward to and I’m just glad to be a participant.”

Emily Henry, Mason council member over parks and recreation, said a lot of planning went into the events. Henry also said she is grateful for the help of volunteers and donations from community members and area businesses.

“It’s just a blessing to see everybody out and getting along and getting together as a community. Everything just kind of falls into place with everybody who volunteers and the high school children helping out for community service hours. It just feels wonderful,” she said. “It’s hard to describe in words how blessed we are to live in America, to have freedom, and for the veterans, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to do this. We wouldn’t be free. It’s awesome seeing the veterans here. It gives me chills knowing they put their lives on the line for us.”

The festivities ended in the evening with residents looking across the river to the Middleport fireworks show. This year, the Town of Mason contributed $1,500 to the fireworks display.

(Editor’s Note: Additional photos from Bend Area Fourth of July celebrations appear inside this edition.)