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Neighbors create a holiday High Point

Some marched in military uniforms, carrying rifles down the narrow, tree-lined street. Others waved from flag-adorned golf carts. One guy even putted past onlookers on a homemade riding mower.

All of them were celebrating Independence Day _ High Point style. They were part of the annual Fourth of July parade Tuesday that wound through the heart of this close-knit community.

The parade, punctuated by the sirens of fire trucks and Hernando County sheriff's cars, drew spectators from High Point and nearby communities. Dozens of people _ mostly retirees _ congregated along the parade route on High Point Boulevard to watch the festivities and say hello to friends.

"It's exciting to see everybody," said Betty Stepaniak, 70, as she sat next to the road in a yellow and green lawn chair. "My neighbor is riding his lawn mower."

The parade was one of several Hernando County events commemorating Independence Day. There were picnics, barbecues and music. And a 45-minute fireworks display was scheduled for nightfall Tuesday at Hernando Beach.

The 20-minute High Point procession began about 8:20 a.m. with the piercing wail of sirens. Shiny red High Point Volunteer Fire Department trucks rumbled by as firefighters waved and hollered to friends lining the street.

Under a blue sky speckled with puffy white clouds, many spectators wore shorts and straw hats and sat under trees to shade themselves from a sweltering sun that heated temperatures into the 80s.

"That's why they start early _ but it still gets hot," said Edna Hubbard, donning a white T-shirt with fireworks and an eagle on the back.

Some onlookers rose from their seats, waving American flags as a couple dressed as Uncle Sam and Betsy Ross strolled past. Then came six golf carts driven by waving women in red shirts and white pants. Four flag-carrying sheriff's officials followed.

"Hut! Hut! Hut!" chanted one man from the Veterans of Foreign Wars as he and three associates marched past carrying an American flag. Not far behind was the Hernando Shrine Queen who waved and smiled from the back of a white Mercedes convertible.

"I think it kind of brings back old times with the marching and old cars," said 97-year-old Anna Scofield, waving two plastic American flags. "It also honors the veterans. So many have given their lives for us."

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