WEST ALEXANDRIA — The West Alexandria Celebration Committee hosted its tenth annual Fourth of July Party in the Park and Car Show at Peace Park on Sunday.
The event kicked off at 1 p.m. with over 30 food, woodworking and craft vendors and a number of other activities, including a beauty pageant and a 50/50 raffle.
Vendors included Dayton-based custom clothing manufacturer RoseLinks, which produces jewelry, bikinis and other items made from chain mail. Owner Rachel Lowery attends several indoor and outdoor festivals each year, and said she enjoys coming to small-town events like Party in the Park.
“People at these events are normally a lot more personable – more willing to really talk with you and see what’s going on,” Lowery said. “They may have fewer vendors, but they take a lot more care with the ones who are there.”
The particulars of this year’s show were up in the air for a long time, according to Celebration Committee secretary and treasurer Michelle Laughlin, primarily because of uncertainty about possible restrictions that might be in place due to COVID-19.
“Until June, we were still thinking we were going to have to keep all the tents six feet apart,” Laughlin said. “And I think some of the vendors were still a little reluctant to come out with all the crowds. But all in all I think it turned out wonderfully.”
The car show wrapped up at 7p.m., according to Laughlin, with prizes awarded for the top five cars and top three trucks, motorcycles and tractors, as well as a Best in Show award. A lighted parade of vehicles then lined up at Salem Lutheran Church before proceeding to the Twin Valley Community Local School District parking lot, where a $6,000-plus fireworks show commenced at 10 p.m.
The West Alexandria Celebration Committee was founded to plan the village’s 175th anniversary celebration in 2010, according to Laughlin, and hosts a number of events each year, including Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, pork chop and chicken dinners, ticket auctions, and Christmas in the Village.
Proceeds from all these events go toward paying for the fireworks and for Santa Villa, another yearly event where kids receive gift bags containing a toy, a coloring book and crayons, a stuffed animal, and a candy cane, as well as winter hats and gloves.
“It’s all 100 percent free,” Laughlin said. “Anyone who wants to travel here and do it can get these items. It’s not based on income or even where you live; it’s literally for everyone.”
Laughlin stressed the importance of events like Party in the Park to the economic well-being of the community.
“You need organizations that will work together to better the community so that people will come to the community,” Laughlin said. “It helps bring people who maybe aren’t from West Alexandria in, and while they’re here they’ll go to the gas station, or to Bratt Tasties – they’ll go to anything that’s open.”
Laughlin expressed gratitude to the people and businesses of West Alexandria for helping make the event a reality.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without everybody’s support,” Laughlin said. “This is a wonderful town to live in, a wonderful community, and they always do what they can to help.”
Local organizations and businesses including Twin Valley Carpet, Weber’s Body and Frame, Twin Valley Bank, Dave Biggs State Farm and Logan’s Auto and Towing donated money to this year’s Party, according to Laughlin, while Sarah’s Pizza, Roselius Insurance, The Lamppost, The Stable, Bratt Tasties and others donated gift certificates and other raffle prizes.
Laughlin also thanked local police, fire and EMS workers, as well as Village Administrator Adam Beneke.
“They helped us in all the ways we needed help,” Laughlin said. “Without them we can’t do anything.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish