Community Turns Out Despite 4th of July Heat for Fenton Freedom Festival Fun
Spirits were still high as the mercury rose; thousands celebrate Independence Day.
A high of 98 degrees at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday didn't stop thousands from seeking fun at the Fenton Freedom Festival. Possibly the warmest temperatures belonged to the mascots for businesses, dressed in their colorful suits. The Jets Pizza character walked by with a sign that read, "Yes, it is hot in here," on one side, and "Thanks for thinking of me," on the other.
Rivaling the mascots for warmth were a few Fenton firefighters walking the parade route in their boots, helmets and other gear, carrying bottled water in hand. The firefighters and trucks brought up the end of the parade, which marched off with a Fenton Police Department Chevrolet Tahoe leading it.
Brothers Luke Lauersen and Cole Lauersen, 10 and 12, had fun riding in military vehicles with their Scout troops. They passed out candy along the way.
Spectators like young Eva VanCamp watched for treats as the parade marched by.
"She loves it when they throw candy," Rosie VanCamp said. "That's why she always brings her own bag."
They planned to watch the fireworks in Holly that evening.
Shawna and Jason Bell brought their children, Denin, 5, and Danie, 7. Denin fell asleep on his mother's lap as he waited to watch the parade. He and his sister are in the Lake Fenton school district.
Dolores Matta, of Fenton, watched from a nearby curb with her granddaughter, Julianna Jackson, visiting from Orlando. Jackson made her own patriotic red, white and blue T-shirt, customizing it with fabric paint and beads.
Alyssa Levely, 3, and Tyler Levely, 6, of Grand Blanc, also waited to see the parade. Their mother, Jennifer Levely, teaches in Fenton. She said Alyssa was representing Genesee County as Miss Little Diva.
Some of the festival-goers represented their employers. Alex Allen and Amanda Hoag helped at the Crust bakery booth outdoors, helping customers purchase old fashioned sour cream donuts, fresh bread with peanut butter and other treats.
Sue Williams, owner of Barking Babes Pet Boutique, decided not to walk the parade route with her dogs, Haley and Abbey, because of the heat. Instead, the two shih-tzu/poodles, sporting their red, white and blue costumes, stayed with their owner in front of Barking Babes, enjoying the air conditioning breeze coming out of the door.
"It's great," Williams said, of the Fenton Freedom Festival. "It's a lot of fun."
Many events and activities added up to something for nearly everyone to enjoy.
At the Adopt-A-Pet tent in the park near the Shiawassee River, Mitchell Straffon, 8, a Fenton Area Public Schools student, petted a pair of puppies, Buddah and Butterball that are adoptable.
"I liked the parade," Mitchell said. He also liked how people helped out at the festival, he said.
Behind the Fenton Community and Cultural Center, the Fenton Lions Club grilled their BBQ chicken dinners for a long line of hungry folks. Lions Matt Sherrow and Dave Dipka staffed the table at the end. The BBQ, a fundraiser for the Lions Club, was going very well, they said.
Resting in the shade for a moment, Susan Roosen, from Grand Blanc, said she attends the festival every year.
"I like the craft show," Roosen said. "We'll go over there on our bikes."
The craft show, outside the community center, featured Gina Cutler's Junque Box Jewels. Crafter Susan Smith, of Fenton, brought her crochet blankets and baby items to the show.
Cutler, of Ferndale, said it was a lovely event.
"It brings a lot of people together," she said.
George Varilone, of Fenton, agreed. He took a break from working around his home to see the parade.
"The gathering of the community is what I like the most," Varilone said.