Waving her small American flag, Kayla Heddleson, 1, bounced up and down on her toes as a group of horses, decorated in red, white and blue, trotted past.
She liked those, she told her grandparents, Ray and Traudl Heddleson.
About half an hour after she first learned the word "horse," Kayla's excitement made it clear — they were her favorite part of the High Point Golf Club's annual Fourth of July parade, one of a handful of Independence Day activities held Friday throughout Hernando County.
"It's the granddaughter's first opportunity to see a parade," Ray said.
And she loved it. As horses, ponies, golf carts, sports cars and boats drove past on High Point Boulevard, just off Cortez Boulevard in Spring Hill, Kayla smiled with excitement.
It certainly helped that the people driving by occasionally handed out candy.
Ray and Traudl, of Spring Hill, are raising their granddaughter and said it was her first time to see horses and ponies. But she learned a lot about the four-legged animals in less than an hour.
The short parade wound through the roads and ended with a flag raising at the High Point Golf Club, an ideal spot for the Heddlesons and their granddaughter to celebrate Independence Day.
But Kayla probably wouldn't have fit in with her blue and yellow sundress and flowery white sandals at a different Fourth of July celebration in Hernando.
About 10 miles northwest of the High Point parade, the Hernando Sportsman's Club hosted its annual Machine Gun Shoot.
Enthusiasts from all over central Florida flocked to the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management area, north of Weeki Wachee off U.S. 19, for the festivities. An antique replica cannon, World War II machine guns and newer .50-caliber rifles were featured, and hundreds of people showed up to either take aim at a variety of targets or watch others fire their rounds.
Gary Moore, from Ocala, said he tries to make it to as many machine gun events as possible. He said it's hard to enjoy his hobby, with the rising cost of bullets and spread of residential areas.
"Everything is shrinking," Moore said. "There's no place to shoot these things anymore."
Though Moore is a veteran at recreational shooting, Cynthia Rignanese is not, though she said she's been around guns her whole life.
"I've got small guns in my house," she said, "but nothing like these big toys here."
Rignanese, who was visiting with a few of her friends, got a chance to shoot some of their guns.
"It feels so great to be out here on the Fourth of July celebrating my right to bear arms," Rignanese said. "It feels patriotic."
Michael Sanserino can be reached at (352) 848-1430 or email@example.com.