Ripley celebrates America | News, Sports, Jobs



Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams waves to the crowd at the Independence Day Parade in Ripley on Saturday. Williams served as Grand Marshal. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

RIPLEY – Some attendees at Ripley’s 4th of July festivities this weekend have maintained an annual tradition. Others were experiencing “The Biggest Small Town Independence Day Celebration in America” for the first time.

“All my life, we have come to July 4th”, Ripley resident Grace Arthur said on Saturday. “This is my favorite vacation. Ripley does it better than any other place in the world.

Arthur’s 15-month-old daughter Aurora was there for the first time, decked out in red, white and blue. She found something to keep her interest in while the parade started – a miniature pinscher named Zoey, held on a leash by Ripley native April Johnson, a Ripley native who now lives in Florida and was in town for a family wedding .

“We decided to stay for the fourth because I haven’t been back for a while. “ said Johnson, who has come from Florida for a family wedding to her husband, Mike, who got his first glimpse of Independence Day in his hometown.“Ripley is the most patriotic town I have ever seen.”

This feeling was evident to Hershel “Wooded” Williams, the last surviving U.S. Navy to receive the WWII Medal of Honor and Grand Marshal of the Parade.

Ripley High School Student Makenzie Grandon, second from right, sings “God Bless America” ​​at the opening ceremony of Ripley’s Independence Day festivities on Saturday flanked, left, by the Parade Grand Marshal and the recipient of the Medal of Honor Hershel “Woody” Williams, Epworth United Methodist The pastor of the church, Reverend Ford Price and the mayor of Ripley, Carolyn Rader. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“When I feel and see the spirit of this city today, it increases my faith, it restores my belief that we are the greatest country … and we love freedom more than any other people on Earth”, he said during the opening ceremony on Saturday morning.

Williams, a West Virginia resident, discussed the concept of Gold Star families, those who have lost a relative during military service.

The nonprofit Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation Inc. strives to establish memorials in honor of these families, 86 dedicated across the country and 74 ongoing.

“We should never, ever forget these sacrifices” he said.

The town committee organizing the celebration recognized the individuals for their service to the community, including awarding the John and Amy McGinley Leadership Award, named after the event’s longtime organizers, to staff in the Department of Jackson County Health.

Wendy Staats, left, receives the John and Amy McGinley Leadership Award on behalf of the Jackson County Health Department by previous winner Suzette Lowe, center, and John McGinley at opening ceremonies for Day of the Day events Ripley’s independence Saturday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Ripley Mayor Carolyn Rader said Department of Health staff were visible, vocal and informative while working to keep the community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They were there to help. They weren’t there to criticize. Rader said.

Wendy Staats, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Department of Health, accepted the award.

“It’s been a long, trying year, but… we have a great community and it’s great to be able to bring them together again” Staats said.

The pandemic resulted in a reduced parade in 2020, but nearly 200 units participated on Saturday.

Aurora Arthur, 15 months, of Ripley, smiles at Zoey, the pet of April Johnson, a native of Ripley, left, and her husband Mike as they wait for the annual holiday parade of the city ​​independence begins on Saturday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“We missed our friends and their grandchildren. They are two years older. Ripley’s Marty Spiker said.

She was sitting along the parade route with her family, including her granddaughter Grace Spiker, who came from Virginia.

“Seeing people and enjoying America … that’s the most exciting thing”, said Spiker’s husband Mike.

The day started with a pancake breakfast at Calvary United Methodist Church and continued with the annual Firecracker Two-Mile race and musical performances before ending with fireworks on Saturday night.

Evan Bevins can be contacted at [email protected]

The mascot of West Virginia University mountaineer Carson Glover elicits cheers from crowds on South Church Street on Saturday during Ripley’s annual Independence Day Parade. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Ripley residents Seth Phalen, left, and Seth Parsons race in the Firecracker Two-Mile Race on Saturday at Ripley, wearing GORUCK backpacks and carrying the American flag. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Archer Freeland, 3, of Ripley, and his aunt, Alicia McVay, greet members of the Nemesis Shrine Motorized Unit outside Parkersburg during the annual Independence Day Parade in Ripley on Saturday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Thousands of people lined up on the route of Ripley’s annual 4th of July Parade on Saturday, helping the town maintain its claim as host to ‘the biggest Independence Day celebration in a small town of ‘America”. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

The Ripley High School Marching Band was one of nearly 200 units on Saturday’s Independence Day Parade through Ripley. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Members of Parkersburg’s Nemesis Shrine Motorized Unit turn Main Street on Saturday during Ripley’s Independence Day Parade. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

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