Kenilworth parade honors American Red Cross, all who serve

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POSTED: Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 10:34pm

UPDATED: Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 10:48pm

There was a lot of white and blue at the annual Kenilworth Civic Association 4th of July Parade, but red was the dominant color.

The group chose to honor the American Red Cross, including having Ruark Chick, chair of the local chapter's board of directors, serve as Grand Marshal.

The parade is the biggest event of the year in the Kenilworth neighborhood. As many as 10,000 people were expected to attend.

"We're a very patriotic neighborhood," said Paul Sicard, who led the organizing committee. "We look forward every year to celebrating America's independence, to honoring our veterans and those who serve our country."

The neighborhood's first parade 42 years ago consisted of a couple of friends riding their lawnmowers down the street, handing out cups of beer. While it has grown in size since then, it has also grown in importance for the community.

"With air conditioning, you don't sit out on the porch and talk to one another every evening, like people used to do," Bob Matthews, Kenilworth's Resident of the Year, mentioned.

The parade usually celebrate the men and women of the armed forces, and couple of vehicles full of reservists rode in the route. Sicard said the American Red Cross was a natural fit.

"Red Cross follows in that tradition, both in terms of their service to the military, and in terms of their service to all of America, always being there when we need them in times of national disasters," he stated.

While Red Cross volunteers are most visible after a hurricane or tornado, they serve the community every day.

"We have a house fire, it's down to every nine hours now," Chick said. "When a house fire comes, who shows up there? Not only do we have our law enforcement helping if there's a particular issue there, or the firefighters who help. But we also have the Red Cross that shows us and assists that family."

Lots of volunteers took part in the parade.

"It means a lot," Chick stated. "I would say they don't necessarily do it for the recognition, but we're all people. When someone gives you a thanks, a 'datta boy,' it feels good."

With so many people cheering on the floats and calling for beads, Kenilworth made a statement about the value of service that extended far beyond the neighborhood.

"And that's what makes this country great," noted Mike Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. "People that do things, and they don't expect anything in return, but it is for the community."

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