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Fourth of July Parade, 1914

Fourth of July Parade, 1914
Name:  Fourth of July Parade, 1914

Date:  July 4, 1914

Image Number:  SD2cdSD1

Comments:  Parades in Scottsville have long been a town tradition, and none are more popular than the annual Fourth of July Parade down Main Street.  In this 1914 scene, Grand Marshal Sam Gault led the parade on horseback (Sam also served as Scottsville's beloved postmaster for forty-six years).  The Scottsville Band and Junior Order of American Mechanics (JR OUAM) followed Mr. Gault.  Bringing up the parade's rear were a Women's Christian Temperance Union float and hundreds of July 4th celebrants; see following photo:

WCTU Wagon in 1914 July 4th parade in Scottsville

This parade always is very popular in Scottsville and draws out-of-town spectators by the thousands.  Townspeople joyfully anticipate the parade and jockey for prime parade-viewing spots along Main and Valley Streets.  It is hard to imagine Scottsville without a Fourth of July celebration, but The Scottsville News reported such an occurrence in 1935 with an article entitled, "Glorious Fourth---But Nothing Doing."  The article lamented further:  "All signs point to a safe and sane and extremely quiet Fourth in Scottsville today.  So far as is known, no celebration of any kind is planned to break the small town peace and quiet.  It will hardly seem the 'glorious Fourth,' with no eagle to scream, no orator to soar in patriotic fervor, no baseball games, no lemonade stands--no anything in any way different from yesterday or tomorrow, except that some business places may be closed.  Well, anyway, the glorious Fourth is here, same as elsewhere."

In later years, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8169 sponsored the Fourth of July Parade.  More recently, the Town of Scottsville and the Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department sponsor one of the largest and most colorful July 4th parades in Central Virginia.  With a parade containing more than 150 entries and many visiting dignitaries, the July 4th weekend celebrations in Scottsville also include an antiques fair, flea market, live music, and fireworks.

To learn more about the July 4th tradition in Scottsville's history, read the following article by Ruth Klippstein, which was published in the Scottsville Monthly in July 2009:

July Fourth:  A Scottsville Tradition
By Ruth Klippstein
Scottsville Monthly, Vol. 7, No. 2, July 2008

Scottsville's July Fourth has long been a special summer holiday for town and family celebrations.  The 1914 photo above showing Grand Marshal, Postmaster Sam Gault, leading the marchers on horseback, with the Scottsville Band, Junior Order of American Mechanics, and the local Woman's Christian Temperance Union, is an iconic image of Southern summertime.  The band was large, with lots of brass, white trousers, blue blazers, and captain's hats.  Flags waved, floats were decorated, women watched from the sidewalks in long, white dresses.

Mayor Raymon Thacker remembers that between 1914 and the early 1940's, various groups would organize a July Fourth parade, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Chamber of Commerce, and the town.  In 1935 the Scottsville News reported "Nothing Doing" that year.  "All signs point to a safe and sane and extremely quiet Fourth in Scottsville today.   So far as known, no celebration of any kind is planned..."

Scottsville Band, ca. 1919
Scottsville Band, ca. 1920-1922

At the time, town baseball was popular, as well as homemade lemonade and ice cream.  Virginia cookbooks dating to 1860 have recipes for chicken fricassee, iced calf's foot jelly, drop and beaten biscuits, cherry pudding, and cakes with 12 eggs.  Summer activities reported by Ellison Bruce in his "Letters of Courtship" to Mary Estes Brown, 1911-1915, include picnics, "porch parties," dances, and tent revival meetings.  In July 1915, there was a minstrel show, and another an operetta with a lawn party, but he does not mention a parade.

By 1936, Thacker recalls that he and Harold Parr, a Scottsville businessman, organized the Scottsville Fire Department.  Until then, the Scottsville Fire Battalion fought fires with two hoses pulled on wheels.  In the 1920's, a block of Scottsville's south Main Street burned down when the Charlottesville Company, called to assist, could not thread their hoses to Scottsville's fire hydrants.  Around 1942, Mayor Thacker says, the Scottsville Fire Department took on the community activity of organizing the town's July 4th parade yearly.

Well-established by 1958, the Scottsville July 4h celebration included a horse-drawn buggy carrying Bob Spencer dressed as a clown, a 1922 Ford, Miss V.F.W. Gayle Stargell on the back of a Volkswagen bug convertible, and a greased pig contest; Mayor W.R. Pitts and Master of Ceremonies C.F.R. Moon, Jr., in an Uncle Sam costume, reviewed the parade from a platform at the baseball diamond, now Dorrier Park.

Scottsville re-inaugurated the July 4th parade as the Scottsville Festival in 1974.  As then-owner of the Canal Warehouse Frances Joseph wrote in the Spirit of Scottsville newspaper, July 29, 1983:  "The town [in 1974] was still recovering from the disastrous flood of June 1972 [Hurricane Agnes].  Scottsville has seen many changes...but looks more prosperous that at the time of the first Festival."

The Festival of the 1970's and 1980's offered a variety of activities.  Frances Joseph remembered folk music at the Canal Warehouse and a bluegrass quartet at the Museum.  Art was displayed, crafts sold, and the Museum mounted folk art and antique toy exhibitions.  In 1975, the newly-opened shopping center raised money for the festival by making the "World's Largest Salad," tossed in a plastic wading pool with ingredients measured by the bushel, the public brought their own bowls and forks.

In 1983, Ruth Self, who had a vintage clothing shop on Main Street, gave an extensive historical fashion show on the Scottsville Museum steps.  A main attraction of the Festival, then and now, has been the flea market, sometimes at Canal Warehouse, sometime run by Doris Jones at the old school, which, Joseph wrote, "gets bigger and better every year."

But the parade and fireworks have always been the headliner of the July 4th holiday.  In 1983, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8169 sponsored the parade; Frances Joseph noted they had sponsored parades in Scottsville "for around 30 years."  Fireworks were paid for by donations from community businesses and run by Duane Karr.  in 1983, a record crowd estimated at 8000 attended.

In 1984, the Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department offered a barbecue, and there were two country music shows as well as parade awards, including "couple present married the longest," and a trophy for "Best Appearing Band or Drum and Bugle Corps."

Patriotic feelings fueled the mid-1970's festivals leading up to the Bicentennial.  A flier lists 1974 activities, July 4-6, including the V.F.W. parade, craft demonstration and show, a Scottsville Museum musicale, town walking town, needlework exhibit, and folk music concert in the evening of the Fourth, ending with the fireworks sponsored by the Scottsville Chamber of Commerce.

A folded program, paid for by over 30 Scottsville businesses, with a cover showing a packet boat on the canal, lists 1975 events:  after the parade, a speech by the Virginia State Attorney General, Virginia Log Chopping Championships "open to anyone," children's games run by the Rescue Squad, and the historical pageant ($1 for adults, 50 cents for children) on the Uniroyal plant grounds--now Hyosung.

This was, Bob Spencer says, a "dress rehearsal" for 1976.  At the urging of various interests in Scottsville, Bob quit teaching summer school to take on this production, written by John Randolph Phillips, called "Of Town and the River."  There were sound effects, costumes, many scene changes, and a large cast.  As reprised ten years later, the pageant was highlighted by the Yankees riding into Scottsville on horses to set fire, harmlessly but loudly, to a trash can.

In 1975 and 1976, the local Springtree Community offered a cafe in the Canal Warehouse to serve lunch -- "old fashioned food at old fashioned prices."  In 1975, the price of a plate lunch was 75 cents; this turned out to be a bit too old-fashioned, and was raised "a bit" the next year.  The menu included cheese, pie, egg salad sandwich, turkey and rice salad, macaroni salad, potato salad, tossed green salad, bread and lemonade or iced tea.  The community's children helped make and serve the food; all profits went to the library.

By 1990, ads for "Celebrate July 4th in Historic Scottsville" included the parade and barbecue, sidewalk sales, and indoor-outdoor antique show and flea market.  The Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department and Chamber of Commerce were sponsoring the parade then, with John Collins the parade marshal; 15 trophies were given in various categories to entrants.

In 1992, local story teller, Kathy Coleman, offered "local legends and lore" at Scottsville Museum in the afternoon; the Scottsville Baptist Church presented a concert of adult and children's choirs in the evening.

The Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department was the sole sponsor of the July 4th program by 1993 and added a carnival July 1 through July 3rd.  There was music Friday and Saturday nights and fireworks, as well as activities, i. e., "events too numerous to list" on the flier.  In 1994, the parade began at 6 pm on July 4th; there was a ceremony at the end swearing in the new Town Council members, with presentation of certificates by the Governor of Virginia, George Allen.  Then the carnival reopened, and fireworks went off at 9:30. Tim Karr was in charge of the parade.

One treat of the July 4th parade has been the throwing of candy to onlookers from the floats.  Christine Coleman "couldn't wait" as a Brownie Scout, to throw candy in 1995, the Daily Progress reported--she started handing it out before the parade.  Another main characteristic of the parade has been noise: lots of sirens, motorcycles, reenactors' guns, fire trucks, and rescue vehicles, delighting many youngsters.

In 1995, St. Anne's Parish of the Episcopal Church sponsored clowns, music, face painting, a pet show, crafts fair, and funnel cakes; the parade was at 6 pm.  In 1996, the parade once more was scheduled in the morning.  Governor Allen swore in Scottsville's new mayor in 30 years, Robert K. Spencer, and helped the town honor outgoing Mayor Raymon Thacker.  Thacker was declared Mayor Emeritus and was presented with a silver plaque.  "You'll always be Mayor Thacker," the Daily Progress reported that Allen told him.  Emily Couric rode in the parade that year, in a car; Allen, as usual was astride his horse.

The fireworks were postponed by rain in 1998.  In 1999, there were about 150 entries in the parade, Tim Karr reported; David Cupp presented "My Friend Mr. Jefferson" at the Municipal Building.  In 2001, the Rural Virginian said that Scottsville was "the liveliest place in Central Virginia" on the 4th.  In 2001, the Rural Virginian said, Scottsville was "the liveliest place in Central Virginia" on the 4th.  The Lions offered free sight and hearing checks in an equipped trailer at the Scottsville Shopping Center; bands played all afternoon in Dorrier Park, as well as in the evening, when Rhythm on the River presented the South Ward Band and the Hogwaller Ramblers.

It's been flag-waving, candy throwing, yard sales, and bluegrass since then, with lots of crowds and difficulty parking ("You're on your own," Tim Karr told the newspaper.)  The firework displays are wonderful, and the sense of a "slice of Americana," as Emily Couric called the event, is strong, Scottsville: home of the brave, especially on the Fourth of July.

To learn more about Tim Karr, who has served as chairman of the Scottsville Fire Department's July 4th parade committee since 1992, read the following article by Ron Smith which was published in the 22 June 2018 Scottsville Monthly:

At the helm for 26 years, Tim Karr loves a parade
By Ron Smith
Scottsville Monthly, June 22 - July 19, 2018

Almost everyone loves a parade.  Visit Scottsville on July 4th and you will see that statement to be true.  For over a hundred years, with few exceptions (for some reason there was no parade in 1935), there has been a Fourth of July Parade in Scottsville.

The Scottsville Museum has evidence that there was a parade on the 4th of July in 1913.  For the next eighty years, organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), the Town of Scottsville, and the Chamber of Commerce either sponsored a parade individually or partnered with one another to see that a parade happened.

The Scottsville Fire Department came into being in 1936.  In 1942, the fire department became involved in the organizing of the parade.  And, in 1993, the fire department became the sole organizer of the event.

Tim Karr, 2018Scottsville's Tim Karr (shown at right) has lived here since he was a toddler.  He serves as Battalion Chief with the Charlottesville City Fire Department.  He is also committed to Scottsville.  Tim is also a chief with the Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department.  He is levee superintendent for the Town of Scottsville, a position that keeps him busy every time the river rises, ensuring that the town does not flood.  He owns and operates a landscaping company and is a member of Scottsville Baptist Church.

In his "free" time, as has been the case for the past 26 years, Karr has seen that the annual Fourth of July Parade takes place.  This will be the 105th edition of that Event!

Tim relates that "during the 1980's the parade was sometimes a part of Scottsville Day and followed a much different route.  The parade used to go all over town, winding its way through neighborhoods until it reached Dorrier Park."  The parade had been pretty much a VFW- sponsored event for thirty years.  The VFW asked the Scottsville Fire Department if they would take over the organization.  Karr was asked to take over leadership of the parade committee in 1992, following the groundwork laid by John Collins and Mike Johnson.

Antique fire equipment participates in parade
Antique fire equipment participates in the Parade.  Photo by Ron Smith

Tim sees himself as a "figurehead" since, as he says, "lots of people are involved to make the parade a success."  There is a logistics to work out with VDOT.  Valley Street has the distinction of being the only state highway that has been given permission to shut down for a parade!  There is advertising, trophies to buy, and making sure the one hundred units in the parade know what is expected of them.  And then there is the fireworks show.

When Tim's dad, Duane Karr, was responsible for the fireworks show, the fireworks were actually on the south side of the James River.  Time emphasizes that "the fireworks are community-funded, and this year $9000 is budgeted for the show."  contributions are always welcome.

Color Guard Leads the Parade
The color guard leads the parade.  Photo by Ron Smith
Scottsville Mayor Nancy Gill
Scottsville Mayor Nancy Gill.  Photo by Ron Smith
Children watch the parade and wait for candy to be tossed
Children waiting for candy to be tossed by parade participants, a tradition of the parade. 
Photo by Ron Smith

With the dawn of July 5th, the previous day's parade and fireworks are vivid in our memories.  Tim Karr should take the day off and rest.  But, knowing Tim, he will already be working on the 2019 parade!  Volunteers are what make things happen.  If you see Tim or any of the many connected with the July 4th celebrations around town, take a minute to tell them how much you appreciate what they do for the community both professionally and as volunteers.  They deserve our thanks, and they would not mind if you volunteered, too!

The top three photos are part of the Anne Shirley Dorrier collection at Scottsville Museum.  The last five photos are by Ron Smith of Scottsville, Virginia.

Copyright © 2020 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDSD1

Middle Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDSD6

Third Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDS6



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