Ford Shaw, 4, of Corinth, waves an American flag while watching the Fourth of July parade with his family in Bangor. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki

As the temperature crept into the 90s, thousands of parade watchers gathered in downtown Bangor and Brewer on July 4, armed with sunscreen, beach umbrellas and coolers filled with cold drinks. For many, attending the annual parade is a tradition that can’t be missed, no matter how hot and sticky the weather may be.

This was especially the case for Bill Ford, 92, and his wife, Rosemary Ford, 87, who attended the parade Wednesday with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I just love a parade,” Bill Ford said, as he sat on a lawn chair beside Main Street in Bangor, surrounded by family. “We’ve been doing it for about 90 years.”

Bill and Rosemary Ford grew up in Bangor, just a block apart, and since childhood, they’ve been attending parades in the Queen City year-round. It never occurred to them to skip the Fourth of July parade this year to avoid the heat. They simply arrived early to secure a spot in the shade, and their family brought plenty of water.

“We’re just patriotic — that’s all,” Rosemary Ford said. “We just think we should. We think if they’re good enough to put on a parade, someone should be there to see them. They should have look-ons.”

To start off the festivities, hundreds of runners participated in the 38th annual Walter Hunt Fourth of July 3K Road Race, which follows the parade route from Brewer to Bangor. As runners made their way down Broad Street in Bangor, many slowed down at a “spray station” set up by the city, where they were hosed down with water before continuing to the finish line.

Then came the parade, starting with groups of war veterans. The Fords — along with many other parade attendees — stood up and cheered them on, waving tiny American flags and thanking them for their service.

The veterans were followed by fire trucks and motorcycles, clowns and bagpipers, a giant lobster-shaped vehicle and robots built by the Brewer Robotics Team. Children caught candy tossed by parade participants. Politicians shook hands. And when the parade ended, the crowd quickly dissipated.

“We’re headed back to our pool,” Katrina Shaw of Corinth, a granddaughter to the Fords, said. “It’s a good day for a swim.”

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Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...