Hundreds withstood the storms Monday to celebrate at the Fourth of July Festival and parade in downtown Lexington.
Strong wind gusts and torrential rains brought down tents and destroyed umbrellas, but many drenched festival goers stuck around until the last bicycles in the parade rolled down Main Street.
Shelia Coles has been celebrating the Fourth of July in Lexington for about 50 years, and she said she and her family weren’t about to let a little rain slow them down.
“It’s been a good day, a little cool and rainy,” Coles said. “But we’ve enjoyed it, it’s a family ritual.”
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The large size of the crowd celebrating downtown in the rain said a lot about how patriotic the people of Lexington are, Coles said.
The celebrations and parade were worth the time spent weathering the storm, Coles said. “I love time out with my family and I love the Fourth of July.”
Many families flocked to festival attractions including a climbing wall, an inflatable slide and a kissing booth featuring Rascal, a canine representative for the Lexington Humane Society.
Main and Short streets were lined with vendors, political organizations and charity booths throughout the day Monday. Several had to rebuild after a round of wind and rain toppled tents and blew away signs.
During one downpour, Sindicat Dunn of Dunn’s BBQ and Catering continued tending to meat on the grill while most everyone else at the festival took shelter.
“You’re already losing customers, so when you’ve got meat on the grill you don’t want to burn that up and lose that as well,” Dunn said.
Dunn’s BBQ has been a familiar sight at downtown festivals for 10 years, so they knew they were going to make it out for the Fourth of July no matter the weather, Dunn said.
“I brought my rain boots, we knew what it was going to do,” Dunn said. “We just appreciate them still holding it and putting it on, they put a lot of work into making stuff like this happen.”
Dunn knocked the prices of everything on his menu down a dollar as a “rainy day discount” to customers who stuck out the wet weather to celebrate the Fourth of July.
During a particularly harsh burst of wind and rain about 20 people took shelter under one of Dunn’s tents.
The tent ended up collapsing, Dunn said. “They scattered like critters when that went down.”
Despite tattered tents and soaked clothing, many who lined the downtown parade route cheered, chanted and waved flags as firetrucks, horses and floats passed.
Glenda Kesling stood in the center of crowded Short Street during the festival passing out free flags. Kesling is the chapter president of Kentucky Blue Star Moms, an organization of women with children who currently serve or have served in military.
“We think everybody appreciates getting the flags,” Kesling said. “We thought that was a nice gesture that we could do and tell them to support our children and wave those flags proudly.”