Thursday’s Portage Fourth of July Parade marked not only a celebration of America’s independence, but also served as a reminder of what makes the city of Portage great.
The smiling, friendly, familiar faces that the Portage parade features each year represent what makes this city our home. The most prominent groups, people and organizations all strolled by, as the work and stress of day-to-life was suspended for a day of community, family and friends.
The first of many familiar faces to make an appearance during the parade was emcee Robin Wilkening, who helped with the orchestration of the parade. Wilkening is well known through the community as a realtor, writer and most importantly as a cheerleader for the city of Portage. Lori Wilkie led the charge in organizing this year's parade, nailing down all the details, creating the application, taking the applications and setting the lineup.
The group spends six months leading the charge in nailing down all of the details that help the parade go off without a hitch.
“It’s quite tedious sometimes,” Wilkening said. “We get a lot of applicants at the last minute. We have about 80 entrees this year. It looks like it’s going to be a great day and we definitely have the crowd for it.”
Fittingly, the parade started with this year’s Grand Marshals, the 2013 state champion Portage High School gymnastics and softball teams. The gymnastics team restored the pride and championship mentality in Portage athletics with the school’s first state title in any sport since 2000, before the softball team followed that up with an equally improbable run to the state title this spring.
After that, it was a who’s who of the people that have a hand in making Portage a special place. From the police officers that protect our city, to the veterans that have served our country, to the firefighters that help keep us safe, Portage’s heroes were well represented. Mayor Jim Snyder and City Councilman John Cannon made appearances on behalf of the city’s government.
The energetic young people that make up the youth sports organizations in the city also sprinted, flipped, jumped and cheered their way through the parade route. The Portage Tribe baseball team, Portage Little League, the Portage Porpoise Swim Club, Portage Youth Soccer, P-Town Young Champions Cheerleading, Portage Junior Miss Softball, Southlake Martial Arts, Achievement Martial Arts and Northwest Indiana Gymnastics were some of the organizations that showed off just how many options there are for children to stay active in the city of Portage.
Several of the many excellent programs at Portage High School had a presence in the parade. Distinguished Young Woman Erin Lichnerowicz, the cheerleading team and the Portage Marching Band were a few of the school’s representatives.
Some of the finest local businesses, such as PortageLife partners Texas Corral and Arnell, were in the parade as well.
A few of the many other organizations to appear in the parade included the Exchange Club, the Portage Community Theatre, Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy and the Portage YMCA.
Next time someone tells you there is nothing to do in Portage, tell them to attend next year’s Independence Day Parade for a refresher course on all of the active people and organizations that help make the city of Portage a special place to live.