BRANDON — Sure, they loved the beads and candy, but the children at Brandon's Independence Day parade seemed to appreciate the water guns and icy treats most of all.
The Krewe of Alafia Norsemen shot streams of water from atop its Viking-themed float. But when the float neared 5-year-old Kadyn Johnson, he was prepared.
He pumped his toy gun and soaked them right back.
The boy was drenched in return, but that's his favorite part of the annual parade, his mom said.
"We've been coming since he was 1, and we bring the water guns every year," said Laura Newman of Riverview.
Cub Scouts, soccer teams, churches and more made up the 100-plus entries in this community parade.
Lutz and Temple Terrace also have long-standing Fourth of July parades. Lutz's celebration is famed for the barbecue the local firefighters prepare, and Temple Terrace's often features local marching bands.
Brandon's parade drew several local politicians, including County Commissioner Kevin Beckner.
A group of Providence Baptist Church members gathered under a shady tent along the parade route. Joanie Blackwell, who sported four miniature American flags in her hair, said she came to the parade to support the United States of America. When the Shriners' float passed, Blackwell yelled "God bless you!" and, nearby, a boy asked a pressing question.
Later, families lined up in front of the SS American Victory Maritime Museum ship docked behind the Florida Aquarium to get the best seats for Channelside's annual Fourth of July firework show.
Army Sgt. Michael Malinowsky, 27, of Tampa set up chairs at 4:30 p.m. with his children and in-laws on the deck — prime real estate.
"There are too many people packed into Channelside and drinking, so when I saw this online, I thought it would be like a two-for-one," he said.
Nearly 700 people came aboard, said Cindy Bosselmann, the ship's marketing director. Children participated in games while parents watched the sunset before the show. Some said the $10 admission was a value.
Grandmother Dee Nashagh, 62, of Holiday praised the idea.
"Finding something for the kids to do besides watch fireworks is important. I'd definitely come back next year."
Late Saturday, police were reporting no fireworks-related injuries.