Demand was so high for shady spots along Clubhouse Road where the High Point Community's Fourth of July parade would pass that Jenny Mounce decided to get there early Saturday morning. Usually a parade participant herself, Mounce had decided to sit this one out, preferring instead to watch alongside friends and neighbors. It's a great little parade," Mounce said. "It kind of reminds you of a small town Fourth Of July. Everybody that's in the parade is someone you know."
The parade, an annual tradition in the small retirement community, was one of several activities that Hernando County residents found to celebrate the holiday.
A patient 4-year-old Ava Jade Gallanick craned her neck to see the first glimpse of the procession as it slowly approached. Led by shiny red fire trucks from the High Point and Hernando Beach volunteer fire departments, the parade traversed the community and included antique cars and two dozen or so patriotically festooned golf carts.
Kathy Gallanick asked her granddaughter what she wanted to see the most.
"Horses!" Ava shouted. A few moments later she got her wish as several members of the Hernando Trail Riders Association strolled by. Some threw candy, which the youngster scooped up with glee.
The county's holiday celebration kicked off in grand style Friday at Florida Classic Park, where thousands attended the second-annual Freedom Fest. The event, put together by the Brooksville Ministerial Association, featured music, games and family-oriented activities.
Platinum-selling country artist Rodney Atkins was the musical highlight. The singer entertained for about an 90 minutes, offering the audience all of his No. 1 hits, including It's America, Watching You, These Are My People and If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows).
A 25-minute fireworks display closed out the evening.
Those looking for a little more action on their Fourth of July found it at the Hernando Sportsman's Club's annual machine gun shoot, where owners of military-style weapons fired nonstop barrages at stationary targets on the gun range.
About 50 shooters showed up with an arsenal that included both modern and antique weapons. The show of firepower impressed Rick Yarber, who drove from Tampa for the event.
"It's just so awesome to see this," Yarber said as he watched a lone Dodge minivan sitting on the gun range take the brunt of the fire. "These guys could start a war if they wanted to."
Times staff writer Will Vragovic contributed to this report. Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.