Guest Post by my mother, Nancy Nemitz:
Originally posted at 24/7 MOMS

SarahBee on right holding baby cousin, her sister E with the sweet blond pigtails, and sister A in the French Braids with the America sash. Our cousin J stands tall with his Freedom sash


I didn’t know I was creating a tradition. What I wanted to do was make Fourth of July as patriotic as possible considering I lived in southern California where we don’t have the Boston Pops or the Washington Monument. When I was very young, my brothers and sisters piled into the back of the station wagon and my dad drove practically non-stop from California to Indiana for a few weeks every few summers. One day we were visiting relatives in the small Indiana town of Jasonville where my dad grew up. In no time at all, a horse and wagon was hitched up; children mounted their horses, and we paraded down Main Street in our own personal small town parade. Those were the days you didn’t need a permit, a holiday, or any reason for a parade except we’d come to town and it would be fun.

The only way to recreate the small town parade while living in southern California was to put together a Fourth of July neighborhood street parade. We made homemade invitations and the children passed them out door-to-door. They encouraged people to participate even if they just wanted to clap as the parade went by. After all, a parade needs spectators to wave and cheer.

At 10 a.m. on the Fourth, children on decorated tricycles and bikes, parents pulling flag festooned wagons, and everyone wearing their red, white, and blue. Every year I made patriotic tee shirts and one year I made sashes that said “America”, “Freedom”, and “Liberty”. These were very simply made. I cut out fabric letters and sewed them on muslin. I didn’t bother with perfection because I was going for the country casual look.

Our parade had a boom box playing patriotic music instead of a marching band. My dad, a former F.B.I. agent was put in charge of security. He walked on ahead and made sure to stop any cars and that the route was safe. People would get out of their cars and enjoy the parade. At the end of the parade, everyone gathered in our driveway for lemonade and flag cookies.
Later that day we always had old fashioned hand cranked ice cream. If you didn’t take your turn cranking and filling the oak barrel with salt and ice, you didn’t eat ice cream. There were a few years when I wasn’t sure my nephew, Jason, was going to get any ice cream, but eventually he’d take his turn.

As it was getting dark, the kids would be anxious to go to the top of the hill in Portola Hills and watch fireworks from El Toro Marine Base, Laguna Beach, and other coastal cities. A perfect ending of a day that turned into a holiday tradition.

**Note from SarahBee**
These memories are so fantastic for me and still so vivid. We had so much fun marching proudly up and down the hill that was our street. We’d plan for weeks in advance to make sure we had the right outfit. (Aren’t those white, pleated shorts to die for?) We’d go door to door with flyers inviting all the neighbors to either join in or cheer us on. For some of the houses, Independence Day was the only day of the year we saw them, yet there they were, waving to us from their sidewalks and holding flags. Other families decorated wagons to haul their little ones or had festooned strollers and bicycles.

I can still taste the amazing vanilla, hand-cranked ice cream. It was so pure and only consisted of cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Every time I think of it, I still feel a brief twinge of the inevitable brain freeze from slurping it down the moment Dad said it was good to go. We’d drink it out of those red plastic cups some years after throughly rinsing the rock salt off the tin and listen to the sonic *BOOM* when the Blue Angels would hit the sound barrier overhead as they performed their acrobatics.

Thank you for sharing this story, Mom, and thank you for creating such beautiful memories for your family. <3

Nancy Nemitz, owner of Create the Space Professional Organizing LLC, works with busy families, professional athletes, small businesses, and moms to create an organized space for them to live and work. She’s been featured on this year’s Season Finale of TLC’s Hoarding:Buried Alive, “It’s A Freakin War Zone”. Nancy has four grown children and has been married for 35 years.


  1. It’s important to make memories like this. I loved reading about it, Sarah, and so nicely written by your mom, Nancy.

    An aunt and uncle in southern California used to do a 4th of July parade too every year. There’s a wonderful 4th of July parade too out in Hillsboro, OR that I love as well. Hillsboro has largely rural roots, so lots of tractors new and old, horses and other animals, old cars, new cars, marching bands, kids on bicycles, and all the other parade hoopla as well.

  2. okiewife says:

    This reminds me of the 4th of July parade we have here, small town of 500 or so residents, but big celebration. Our parade usually consists of horses and riders from a couple of area saddle clubs, vintage classic cars, decorated floats from 2 or 3 local businesses and clubs, tractors, 4 wheelers, decorated bicycles, the local fire engines and ambulance/emt vehicles, and a horse and buggy to carry the parade marshal. The whole town turns out for it, then a picnic in the park, and a street dance at sundown. These redneck farmers and ranchers know how to throw a patriotic party. Yes, I’m attending again this year. No matter how hot it gets. :)
    This is a happy kind of post Sarah, and thanks to your Mother for sharing it.

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