The applause went up at first glimpse of each military unit as the sidewalk crowd yelled out "thank you" and the veterans saluted, smiled and waved in return.
From an enthusiastic representative of the Tuskegee Airman from World War II to dozens of high school students dressed in combat fatigues, the crowd gave love all around as Jeeps, antique cars and Humvees loaded with veterans rolled by.
After years of scorching heat or drizzle — or some combination of both — the weather in downtown Lexington was perfect Friday for the Fourth of July parade: 75 degrees, with a light breeze.
The parade, which began at 2 p.m., featured holiday festival regulars like politicians, souped-up cars and Boy Scouts as fascinated by the horse poop on the street as anything else around them.
Overall the beautiful day seemed to add a little pep to the step of the marching bands, and the ranks of volunteers representing community groups seemed a little fuller than in years past.
A few things raised eyebrows: Was that Elvis riding with the guys from the American Legion Post? Was that a frontier man carrying a long rifle while walking in support of Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn? Was the gray-haired guy winging down Main Street on roller skates an official participant or just out for a good time?
But the heart of it all was the red, white and blue celebration of America's birthday.
Abriana and David Hernandez both had their faces painted, forehead to chin, with the American flag. Their mom, Brenda Hernandez, said the effort, which took about 40 minutes, was worth it.
"This is the day to celebrate the United States, and what it stands for and its freedoms," she said.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.