Ann Arbor residents celebrated Independence Day with the 29th annual Fourth of July parade Thursday morning. The parade, run by the Ann Arbor Jaycees, the young adult offshoot of the Chamber of Commerce, began at 10 a.m. downtown.

Jaycees co-director Carolyn Walsh said in addition to building community and offering and outlet for celebrating the holiday, the festivities offer opportunities to learn more about community groups and nonprofits. Walsh noted there are more than 60 community sponsors this year.

“It’s a really important event that binds the community together,” Walsh said. “On the Fourth of July, we have a lot to celebrate, and it gets the community engaged with different organizations and nonprofits.”

The Jaycees also host the summer carnival at Pioneer High School in late June each year. Walsh said their annual events have variation from year to year because the organization’s membership is always growing.

Walsh also said she hoped attendees learned more about the parade’s grand marshal, the Buddy-to Buddy-program. According to its website, Buddy-to-Buddy is a peer-to-peer program training volunteer veterans to provide support and locate resources for fellow service members and veterans.

In addition to the parade, Walsh said the Jaycees are also sponsoring a bike decorating contest. There are prizes for winners and all participants ride their bikes in the parade. She also said there are other community events taking place after the parade.

The parade started at the corner of East Liberty and South State and made a box turning left on East Washington, South Main and then East Liberty until it hit Maynard Street. The total course stretched approximately one mile.

Politicians including Mayor Chris Taylor, Rep. Debbie Dingell and state Sen. Jeff Irwin were in attedance.

LSA freshmen Dyanna Bateman and Holly Gurnik came to the parade with their LSA Honors program. Bateman said she enjoyed attending the parade and seeing the culture of Ann Arbor.

“It’s cool seeing how festive everyone’s been,” Bateman said. “I didn’t realize how diverse the community was, and it’s nice to see everyone come out together to celebrate.”

Originally from New Jersey, Gurnik said she also appreciated the different cultures represented in the parade.

“The diversity is really different,” Gurnik said. “It’s a lot more diverse than my home town, so it was really cool.”

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