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Multiple generations carry local Independence Day tradition

“I always tell people that Mayberry is a fictional town, but Pine Tree Drive is reality,” Chris Edwards said as he stood in the front yard of the house he grew up next door to. He was chatting with two of his childhood neighbors, Scott and Bruce Yarbro, who also came back to Pine Tree Drive for their Fourth of July tradition. 

It’s a tradition that has been going on for 65 years, through several generations, and multiple changes in home ownership. Somehow, it’s even bigger than it was that first summer of 1958. That’s when the mothers of 32 neighborhood children got together to create the first “Pine Tree Drive Fourth of July Parade.”

“Chris’s brothers were probably the oldest on the street,” Scott Yarbro said he didn’t remember much of the first parade. He was too young. “We could march up and down with flags, and then we decorated our bicycles with crepe paper, and put playing cards with the clothes pins on the spokes and made noise. Then we started introducing floats.”

And every year, the group of neighborhood kids and their mothers would patriotically march down and back up the street. Until they all moved away or went to college. That’s when their mothers did it by themselves.

“So for a few years, my mother and father would march up and down the street with a flag just to keep it going,” Yarbro said. 

Then, new families moved onto the street. And the Yarbros and Edwards’ grandchildren marched in the parade. And eventually, the Montgomery family moved in and started bringing out donuts for all of the kids. 

It wasn’t until 2012, when the Montgomerys moved (three houses down), that Andrea Hazlehurst and her husband were told that if they bought that white house on the curve of the street, they were expected to host the annual parade. 

And they did it enthusiastically. 

“We had so much fun that year. There were probably about 75 people here,” Andrea Hazlehurst said, “And the look on the faces of the ladies who have lived here their entire married lives was priceless. Edward, my husband, said we will do this until we can’t do it any longer because it’s so much fun. It brings such joy to the families that originally lived here, and to everybody in the neighborhood and in the city that we invite.”

Joan Tomlin is one of those ladies. She was there for the first parade, and has watched every one of them since.

“We’re all friends, and we all love to get together to celebrate the Fourth,” Tomlin said, “It’s a close neighborhood, and has been for years.”

From what the neighbors say, the parade itself is a little anticlimactic. Everyone gathers in front of the Edwards family house and recites the pledge of allegiance. This year they also sang “God Bless America.” Then, the older kids race to the end of the street that isn’t even a quarter mile long. Younger kids are pushed in strollers or ride in wagons. A few parents even bring out little electric cars. 

The whole time, Joan Tomlin waves at them, laughing and smiling with each person. 

“It looked the way it does now. The trees have grown more,” Tomlin said, “We had all these children that decorated their bikes and the wagons, just like they do now. They had a good time going up and down the street.”

And it’s a tradition that is expected to continue. Bruce Yarbro’s children and grandchildren will soon be moving into his mother’s former home. That will make four generations that have lived on this street. 

“I think this has got legs,” Bruce Yarbro said, “It’s nice that they do this.”

Julia Ewoldt, julia@jacksonpost.news

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