The Lakewood 4th of July Parade has a long and rich tradition. The first parade consisted of the two Neikirk children riding their bikes for about 2 houses on the sidewalk in the 7300 block of Lakewood Blvd. in 1964. The idea grew from that point into a block party and parade for the families located in the 7200 and 7300 blocks of Lakewood Blvd.
It expanded from that point to include more of the neighborhood and the route was lengthened, with the awards and refreshments area set up in a vacant lot at the comer of Westlake and Copperfield. The route went from Cambria and Lakewood Blvd. to Copperfield and left to the vacant lot.
The honorary "Mayor of Lakewood" was started in the late 1960's and title was initially held by Jim Young, a long time Lakewood resident and one of the people who spearheaded the meetings and ideas for the parade each year. In 1984 Jim Young passed on the title of "Mayor" to Bill Duryee. The goal at that time was for the parade organizers to get some of the newer residents with younger children involved. It was at then that Jim Hicks, Bob Brimer, and Bill Duryee became Parade Committee planners. In 2003 Bill Duryee, with the consent of the Committee, passed the title of "Mayor" on to Al See. The goal continues to be to include as many new families into the planning as possible.
In 1983 or so, Irv Queal decided to build a house on the "Parade Grounds" and the route was changed to the present route that ends at the Tokalon Tennis Courts. This was chosen with the hope that there would not be a house built there. In the first few years, electricity was provided by the neighbors using multiple long extension cords. Since then a generator has been supplied by the committee to provide electricity for the Snow Cone machine.
In 1987 with the theme of "Under the Big Top" a tent was erected and the welcome shade was so appreciated that we have had one every year since, except 1995 which saw a cool spell on the 4th of about 92 degrees. The parade committee built a makeshift tent in 1994 to help offset the costs of erecting a circus tent every year. Since then several special shade tents have been purchased and the Boy Scouts also put up some tents.
In 2000 the Parade went high tech and created its own web site. This site has become the repository of the Parade's history, photos old and new, things we fondly remember, things we maybe remember, the place to find out what this year's Parade Theme is and a place to see what the current year's 4th of July T-Shirts look like and where to buy them. In 2011 a FaceBook Lakewood 4th of July Parade page was added to make Parade pictures more easily available and a LW4J Twitter account was created to facilitate Tweets about the Parade Theme, T-Shirts and, for safety, any impending Parade day weather issues.
The "Parade Grounds" at the end of the parade is where refreshments are served. Soft drinks, watermelon, and snow cones are provided for all. This is also where the awards are given to the many participants in the parade based on many different categories.
The parade continues today with the purpose unchanged in 48 years. "To have a neighborhood parade for the kids of all ages with no commercial advertising or floats in the parade". This was done so that the families and children would be able to compete for the many ribbons and awards that are presented at the end of the parade. In addition, buttons are given away each year with the different themes. Some Lakewood residents have collections of all of the buttons from each year they were distributed.
The parade is funded strictly through the kind and generous donations of the residents, businesses and neighborhood associations located in the area. The annual budget for the parade is about $5,000. Some of this is given by "Sponsors" before the parade begins, but about a third is collected at the parade grounds from the people in attendance.
The 2011 organizers included Bob Brimer, Al See (aka "Uncle Sam"), Vickie Thompson, Carol Hensley, Mike Youdin, Troy Harper, and Clay Drury.
Some of the 2007 Parade Committee
The Serapis Flag:
He was born John Paul in Scotland in 1747 and went to sea when he was only twelve years old. By the time he arrived in Philadelphia in 1775 as an experienced sea captain, he had changed his name to John Paul Jones.
After conducting sea raids on the coast of Britain, he took command in 1779 of a rebuilt French merchant ship, renamed the U.S.S.Bonhomme Richard to honor Benjamin Franklin. On September 23, 1779, Jones engaged the British frigate Serapis in the North Sea, daringly sailing in close, lashing his vessel to the British ship, and fighting the battle at point-blank range. During the fight two of his cannon burst, and the British captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender. Replied Jones: "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight." The American crew finally boarded the Serapis after the British had struck her colors, and from the deck of the Serapis they watched the U.S.S.Bonhomme Richard sink into the North Sea