WAXHAW — The theme of this year’s Fourth of July Parade in Waxhaw was superheroes throughout history.
Some marchers, and even some attendees, dressed up as superheroes, as thousands lined the streets of downtown Waxhaw for the annual parade that also featured various floats, vintage cars and firetrucks.
Waxhaw also honored two local heroes who are no longer with us.
Waxhaw Volunteer Fire Department firefighters Michael Starnes and Bill Kennelly passed away earlier this year and were honored as grand marshals for the parade.
Two vintage Mustangs led off the parade, carrying the uniforms of Starnes and Kennelly. One of Waxhaw’s newest heroes – Elvis the Police Dog – followed the firefighters.
Starnes, 33, passed away Feb. 21. He was with the Waxhaw Fire Department for 10 years, including serving as president of the board. He joined the Griffith Road Fire Department when he was 17. Starnes worked for Ken’s Tire Service in Monroe for many years before
leaving to join the Mecklenburg County Parks and
Kennelly, 52, passed away June 12. Kennelly served with the Middletown (N.J.) Police Department for 25 years, was a lifetime member of the Lincroft Fire Company, and rose to the rank of chief with the Middletown Township Fire Department. Kennelly moved to Waxhaw in 2012 after retiring from the police and fire departments in New Jersey. He was on the board of directors as well as on the recruitment board for the Waxhaw Volunteer Fire Department.
“We had an opportunity to recognize and honor a couple of heroes,” Waxhaw Mayor Steve Maher said of Starnes and Kennelly. “Heroes represent the essence of what the country is about.”
Four of the more popular costumed superheroes – Super Girl, Batman, Cat Woman and Spider-Man – were from Masquerade Designs of Waxhaw. The team was a hit with adults and children.
“People dressed up in superhero costumes, and it was great to see kids along the parade route in costume,” Maher said. “I don’t know how they did it with the heat. I was sweating bullets just with my polo shirt on. But they did it.”
Maher said he was impressed with the number of parade participants and the large crowd of people that watched the parade snake through the downtown area. The town also hosted a 25-minute fireworks display that evening.
“It was a perfect day for a parade,” Maher said. “We had a very good turnout and we had a good focus on what a Fourth of July parade is all about. On one hand, it’s a birthday celebration for our country, and we also pay tribute to the history, pay a tribute to what a great nation we are. We focus in on the freedom and opportunity we have in America.
“I was also impressed with the turnout at the fireworks. That was terrific. Waxhaw celebrated the country’s 242nd birthday very appropriately as a small town community should.”