When Zachary Gossert, of Silt, celebrates his birthday, the whole country parties too.They’re not honoring his birthday, but the nation’s. But there’s never any lack of fun and festivities on Zachary’s birthday, because the 11-year-old was born on the Fourth of July.Zachary joined his siblings and mom Monday to mark the big day by joining in the 26th annual July Fourth Freedom Celebration in Apple Tree Park near New Castle.”Zachary, dig, dig, dig!” Shannon Gossert urged his son as he partook in a sand treasure hunt with dozens of other kids. Gossert, standing by her youngest son, 2-year-old Andrew, held a pinwheel, glider, toy lizard and other items her other children unearthed in a giant sandbox.Later, Katarina Gossert, 4, would join in a watermelon-eating contest, the trick being that the watermelon slices were hung from strings and no hands were allowed.This was the Gosserts’ first visit to the Apple Tree Park event.”It’s great. It’s fun,” Gossert said. “There’s some good activities going for the kids – nice and safe fun.”
The event offered pools, sprinklers and other of ways to get wet and cool off, carnival games such as the chance to pop balloons with darts, and for adults, a horseshoe tournament.Zachary said it’s “pretty cool” sharing his birthday with the nation’s and added that he was looking forward to that evening.”Tonight we’re going to do like 57 fireworks,” he said.His mom remembers being confined to bed and only able to hear fireworks 11 years ago after delivering Zachary in a Vail hospital. “I know my doctor was excited because he was born early enough for her to make her barbecue,” Gossert said.As the Gosserts and others enjoyed the sunny afternoon near New Castle Monday, hundreds of children assembled in Carbondale for the 28th annual Kids Parade on Main Street.At 4 p.m., the participants, many on bikes decorated with red, white and blue, made their way down Main Street and then over to Sopris Park, where free watermelon awaited everyone.The event also included music, patriotic readings and other activities, and was put on by the Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities. Lisen Gustafson, who helped out with the celebration, estimated that 600 to 700 children took part in the parade.
“I had no idea there were that many in all of Carbondale,” she told the crowd from the Sopris Park stage.Even with so many participants in the parade, punctuality by parade-goers was well-advised.”It’s just pretty short and sweet,” said Cody Wampler, of Carbondale, a Cub Scout leader for Pack 235, which had about 10 of its uniformed members in the parade.J.J. Worley, 12, of Carbondale, wore a uniform of a different sort in the parade: a tie-dyed shirt, and a necklace with a peace symbol. And she carried a sign saying “Give Peace a Chance.”Exercising their freedom of speech on the day when the United States celebrates its freedom, she and four fellow Carbondale Community School students bore banners with political messages, including her anti-war statement.”We were kind of upset about the war and everything like that,” she said.Said her friend, 11-year-old Catherine Masters, “I just don’t think that war’s the answer to a lot of things.”
J.J. said there is good reason for some wars, such as the Civil War, which resulted in slaves being freed. But she said the war in Iraq “was just about getting oil.”The politics of war aside, Mario Chamorro, of Carbondale, who is originally from Guatemala, voiced appreciation for the service of American soldiers over the nation’s history.”Everything they’ve done, it’s really cool because now we have the freedom,” he said.Chamorro was one of many Latinos to join in Carbondale’s festivities. He said Guatemala celebrates a holiday similar to Independence Day on Sept. 15. Torch relays end in towns, and there are military parades and other festivities, but no fireworks. He enjoyed participating in the United States’ Fourth of July celebration Monday with his wife and friends, and watching people come together to mark the nation’s birthday and honor its history.”I think it’s awesome,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-9515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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